"We need real leaders who understand this."
When we choose new leaders next year, can we pick those who do not behave as if they were above the law? Whether at the national or the local level, this trait should extend to the people that these leaders pick to run the government. Nobody should be above the law—and it is high time our public servants, for that is what they claim to be, begin acting like this were true.
Sadly, this cannot be said of the Duterte administration, where special treatment for those in power goes unchecked—and unpunished.
On Sunday, Senator Nancy Binay rightly took Tourism Secretary Berna Romulo-Puyat to task for letting a 6-year-old child go around tour sites and public areas without a face mask and a face shield in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a post on Instagram presumably to promote the return of domestic tourism, Puyat and 6-year-old Scarlet Snow Belo, a Tourism ambassador, were shown visiting several tour sites to encourage domestic leisure travel. Neither of them was wearing a face mask, however.
“Allowing a 6-year-old child to go around without a face mask and face shield in tour sites and public areas, and for a member of the Cabinet not [to practice] basic health protocols is flat out unacceptable,” Binay said.
“[W]hat everyone saw in her IG post is a disturbing lapse of judgment that showcased a series of public health and IATF violations,” Binay said, referring to health guidelines set down by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.
“Being in the government, we should be more conscious of our decisions or actions because you may be sending wrong signals to the public in showing that minors are already allowed to go visit tourist destinations,” Binay added.
Sadly, this administration has tolerated and even defended such behavior.
There was the national police chief who celebrated his birthday with a well-documented “surprise” party in clear violation of quarantine rules at the time.
Then there was the presidential spokesman, who visited a resort and swam with the dolphins in July last year—when no non-essential travel was allowed. He and the President’s chief legal counsel were also criticized for singing in public, despite the advice from health officials against such activities that could spread the infection. The same spokesman was also seen joining in a mass gathering in Cebu in December last year.
Irony of ironies, even the country’s contact testing czar was not above a little mid-pandemic partying—again, against all established health protocols. When he resigned over the flap, the Palace called him back, signaling to one and all that some of us are more equal than others.
Leadership by example ought to be more than just a catchphrase to which we pay lip service. We need real leaders who understand that.