MANILA – Some good things may happen during bad times. The “shouting” episode in the city hall of Pasay City is one of them. In the afternoon of Saturday, Pasay City Councilor Arnel “Moti” Arceo came unexpectedly to their session hall only to find it was used for the rapid testing area for coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) by their city health office.
The session was full of health care workers, mostly Medical Technologists, doctors and nurses with their facilities and make-shift plastic barriers to observe proper physical distancing and wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) for personal safety.
But the councilor could not control his anger, frustration and horror to see what became of their august hall and he shouted and reprimanded all those who were there for jeopardizing the safety of councilors and city hall employees who are using the facility. Everything that the councilor did and said during this incident was recorded by his own mobile phone.
The said episode garnered various reactions from netizens and the public at large. Some called the councilor “angas” or a bully and his action as discriminatory to medical frontliner, an act that may be punishable under the “Bayanihan Law.” On Monday, during a live radio-TV interview, Councilor Arceo reiterated his apology to health officials and workers who might be slighted by his action.
The apology was personally accepted by Dr. Ronaldo Puno, president of the Philippine Medical Technologist (PAMET) saying that he understood the sentiments of the councilor. “Naintindihan ko ang kaluoban ng konsehal ngunit hindi ko makaseguro sa gawing hakbang ng aming organisasyon sa pangyayarin,” (I understand the feelings of the councilor but I’m not sure of the position of our organization of the incident),” he said.
This unfortunate incident raises again the issue of better protection for Covid-19 frontliners against being physically exposed to the disease and social discrimination. There was a report that a family of four was forced out from their rented home in Manila by their lessor upon knowing that their father was a hospital worker. Another report says that Medical Technologists (Med Techs) are not given priority of protective supplies like the N95 facemasks in hospitals.
Dr. Puno also said many people did not know the risks faced by Med Techs with the Covid-19 pandemic and the low compensation they receive. “Kaya nga nagpadala na ang organisasyon namin ng isang position paper sa Malacañang upang madagdagan naman ang sahod ng Med Techs sa bansa,” (That is why our organization has sent a position paper to Malacañang asking for salary increase of Med Techs in the country).
He said that under the existing Salary Standardization Law, newly employed Med Tech is at Salary Grade 11, which has a maximum pay between Php 17,000 to Php 20,000 per month.