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PANGASINAN, Philippines (3rd UPDATE) – A father and son were arrested in Villasis town on Thursday, June 18, for sharing a motorcycle on their way to work.
Pedro Mones and son Paulo – both construction workers – shared a motorcycle ride from their home in Barangay Unzad in Villasis town, and were headed to their work site when police arrested them for violating quarantine rules set by the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF).
(Editor’s Note: The subjects’ surname was earlier spelled as Munez. This has been corrected.)
The policy bans motorcycle backriding since physical distancing cannot be practiced, and applies even to those who live in the same home. Some local governments have appealed the policy. (READ: Frontliners in a bind: Health workers fined P5,000 for backriding)
Pedro explained that there was no other public transportation available and they had to get to work to put food on the table.
“Wala kaming masakyan papasok kaya nag-angkas kami. Wala na kaming pambili ng pagkain (We couldn’t get any public transportation so we shared a ride. We have no more money to buy food),” Pedro said.
Villasis police chief Major Fernando Fernandez, however, was adamant on the policy.
“Ang motor, mahigpit na ipinagbabawal na may sakay sa likod. May ordinansa sa Villasis na ang violation sa quarantine guidelines ay hindi hihigit sa 3 oras ng pagkakakulong at hindi hihigit sa 3 oras na community service.”
(We strictly prohibit backriding on motorcycles. Villasis has an ordinance in which violators of quarantine guidelines will be jailed for no more than 3 hours, and will have to do community service for no more than 3 hours.)
The Moneses were later released after serving time for 3 hours and rendering 3 hours of community service. After we earlier reported that they wished they had bicycles to use instead, several readers, as well as the Office of Vice President Leni Robredo, inquired how they could help the father and son.
“Tatlong oras sa kulungan, tatlong oras din sa community service. Hindi na po pinagmumulta o kakasuhan ayon sa ordinansa. Naglinis po sila ng paligid, tapos pinakawalan na po sila,” Fernandez said on Friday.
(They spent 3 hours in jail, 3 hours of community service. They weren’t fined, they weren’t charged according to the ordinance. They cleaned the surroundings, then they were freed.)
The father and son were so distraught, they didn’t go to work on Friday.
“’Yung anak ko hindi pumasok. Natakot ‘ata. Nagtanim na lang ako kanina. Hindi muna ako pumasok dahil sa nangyari (My son didn’t report for work. He was traumatized. I just planted today, I didn’t go to work either after what happened),” Pedro said.
Bayan Pangasinan spokesperson Eco Dangla pointed out the double standards in the Moneses’ predicament.
“Kapag ordinaryong mamamayan, kulong agad pero kapag si Koko Pimentel, Mocha, at Debold may ‘compassion’ at nababali ang batas (Ordinary citizens get jailed immediately, but if it’s Koko Pimentel, Mocha Uson, or Debold Sinas, there’s ‘compassion,’ and the law is bent in their favor),” Dangla said in a Facebook post.
All 3 public officials mentioned violated quarantine guidelines. Senator Koko Pimentel went around Makati City and even accompanied his wife to the hospital despite having flu symptoms, and then learned he was positive for COVID-19 while he was out.
Uson, Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) Deputy Administator, held a gathering of over 300 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Batangas, while Metro Manila police chief Major General Debold Sinas allowed a birthday celebration for him in Camp Crame attended by dozens of cops. None of them were arrested or even reprimanded. – Rappler.com
Those who have expressed their wish to send assistance to Pedro and Paulo Mones can do so through Cebuana Lhuillier Pera Padala or Palawan Express Pera Padala. Recipient details: Regina Tugadi, mobile 0965-550-0898. Regina is Pedro’s daughter.