MANILA, Philippines — The Department of the Interior and Local Government said there was nothing wrong with presidential spokesperson Harry Roque’s visit to a marine theme park even as the country enforces strict restrictions on movement due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
Roque made waves on social media when photos of him swimming with dolphins were posted on the Facebook page of Ocean Adventure in Subic, Zambales. The photos have since been taken down.
Unlike social media users, DILG Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya saw no problem with Roque’s “side trip,” saying tourist destinations such as marine parks are allowed to operate at a limited capacity in areas under modified general community quarantine. Zambales is under MGCQ.
“Wala pong nakikita ang DILG na kamalian ni spokesperson Harry Roque,” Malaya said in a press briefing.
(The DILG sees nothing wrong with what spokesperson Harry Roque did.)
“Noong pumunta si spokesperson Harry Roque doon, it was MGCQ. Ibig sabihin pwede na po mag-operate ang tourist facilities up to 50%,” he added.
(The area was in MGCQ when spokesperson Harry Roque went there. That means tourist facilities are allowed to operate at 50% capacity.)
The DILG official also said that the presidential spokesperson is an “authorized person outside residence.” APORs are only allowed to leave home for essential errands or for work.
In addressing criticisms against him, Roque said Thursday his visit to the marine park was a “side trip” after visiting his “businesses and ventures” in Bataan province.
“Kahit sinong APOR who happens to be in an MGCQ area, pwede na tayong pumunta sa mga resorts so long as these resorts comply with the 50% occupancy requirement, they are complying with health protocols,” he added.
(Any APOR who happens to be in an MGCQ area can go to resorts as long as these resorts comply with the 50% occupancy requirement, they are complying with health protocols.)
Roque is among the government officials who have been reminding the public to stay home except for essential travels and blaming people’s supposed stubbornness and complacency for the spread of COVID-19.
“If anyone was offended by the pictures they saw, I apologize. I’m only human,” he said, adding he did not “party”—referring mañanita held for Metro Manila police chief Debold Sinas—and was “alone with four dolphins.”
The police have detained tens of thousands of Filipinos for violating curfews or leaving their homes without quarantine passes.
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