Pasay councilor berates, curses at health workers testing city hall employees

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 24) — A councilor of Pasay City is in hot water for berating health workers who were conducting rapid testing among employees of the city hall.

Facebook user Alexia Guevara uploaded a video on Saturday which tagged Pasay City councilor Arnel "Moti" Arceo, who can be heard "badmouthing" health workers for using the session hall as a venue to test the local government employees for COVID-19.

Guevara said in her post that the video, which has since gone viral, was only forwarded to her by a friend. It was taken last May 19 by Arceo himself, who can also be seen and heard in the clip.

The video has garnered more than 17,000 angry reactions and 18,000 shares on Facebook as of late afternoon Sunday.

A few seconds into the video, Arceo can be heard shouting at the frontliners: "P******a kung hindi delikado tanggalin niyo, p********g yan. Araw-araw namin dinidisinfect yan eh," the councilor said, taunting them to remove the barriers surrounding the session hall.

[Translation: If that's not dangerous, then remove the barriers s********h. We've been disinfecting that every day.]

"Bakit di sa opisina nila ginawa yan? Tapos sasabihin wag akong sumigaw. Nagiisip ba kayo?" he added, as he continued to walk around the premises with a few personnel trying to console him.

[Translation: Why don't they do that in their office. Then they'll tell me not to shout? Are you even thinking?]

In the middle of the clip, Arceo can be heard shouting at one of the frontliners attempting to film him as he continued to make a scene.

"Kinukunan mo ako? Kunan mo ko oh. Konsehal ako ng bayan. Session hall namin yan. Nagpaalam ba kayo saming lahat? Eh lahat kami gumagamit nyan eh," he said.

[Translation: Are you trying to film me? Then film me. I'm a councilor of this city. That's our session hall. Did you ask for permission from all of us? We're all using that.]

Along with the video, Guevara's post included a copy of the memorandum from the human resource department of the Pasay City government issued on May 18 to all department heads and employees notifying them that there will be a rapid testing for the skeleton workforce inside the city hall.

"Syempre, 'yung mga medtech, sumunod lang sa memo from the office and dumating sila sa venue and nag-prep ng lahat including 'yung covers and plastic sheets as protective gear," Guevara narrated.

[Translation: The medical technologists only followed what was in the memorandum and showed up in the venue to prepare, including the covers, the plastic sheets as protective gear.]

She added that the health workers wanted to file a complaint following the incident, but were only told by city health officer Cesar Encinares to just ignore what happened.

CNN Philippines reached out to Arceo himself, who insisted that he only stood for what is right.

"Naniniwala ako na tama yung stand ko...Wala akong hinarass. Inemphasize ko lang na delikado yung ginawa niyo dito," he told CNN Philippines.

[Translation: I still believe that what I did was right. I did not harass anyone. I only emphasized that what they did was dangerous.

"Kung si Panginoong Hesukristo nga, noong makitang ginawang palengke yung templo niya, nagalit, nagwala eh tayo makasalanang tao lang di naman pwedeng ikumpara doon. Kinilabutan rin ako sa nakita ko eh," Arceo said.

[Translation: If Jesus Christ himself got angry at the people who turned his temple into a market, as a sinful person I cannot compare myself to that. But what I saw gave me shivers.]

The Department of Interior and Local Government previously urged local government units to report incidents of harassment and discrimination against frontline workers in the country.

President Rodrigo Duterte also ordered the police and military last April to watch out for anyone who will harass health workers.

Meanwhile, Pasay City Mayor Emi Calixto-Rubiano said Sunday she has organized a dialogue between Councilor Moti and the Pasay City health personnel, saying "it is very possible that there has been a misunderstanding between them."

The mayor added that she has already conducted a series of dialogues with the parties involved in the video to hear their sides of the incident.

"I find it regrettable that the incident happened," Calixto-Rubiano said. "But as mayor, it is my responsibility to ensure that we should focus on our real enemy which is COVID-19."