THE event that culminated in a beach party on Camotes Islands, Cebu on July 10, 2021 was covered with all the permits and approval from the Regional Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) and San Francisco Municipal Government.
Thus said Rep. Duke Frasco (Cebu, 5th district) in a statement on Friday, Aug. 20, in response to a complaint filed against him and other officials that prompted PNP Chief Guillermo Eleazar to direct the local police to investigate the matter.
The anonymous complaint, dated August 13, and sent to the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), alleged that the event dubbed as TeamFrasco Friendship Ride/Run may have “caused or contributed” to the spike in Camotes’ Covid-19 cases.
A video of the event showed some people not wearing masks and ignoring physical distancing while partying.
The complaint also claimed the event was held without clearance from the municipality and the barangay.
But Frasco said it was held in full coordination with the San Francisco Municipal Government, police, barangay officials, tanods and health workers to ensure that health and safety protocols were implemented.
He said the beach party happened when Cebu was still under the more relaxed modified general community quarantine (MGCQ).
In compliance with the IATF, Cebu Province, and local rules, Frasco said all the 667 bikers and runners who attended were required to fill out health declaration forms, undergo temperature checks before the event, and wear masks.
“All participants were continuously reminded by the organizers before and during the event to follow necessary health/safety protocols and guidelines including wearing of masks and social distancing,” he said.
The event, he added, was held at the public beach in Barangay Santiago which has an open air beachfront capacity of 25,000 people.
Under the IATF guidelines on events and gatherings under MGCQ status, up to 50 percent of the venue capacity is allowed.
“Hence, a maximum of 12,500 people are allowed for an event held at the public beach. With only 667 registered participants, plus spectators and event organizers, the event clearly fell below the maximum allowable MGCQ threshold,” said Frasco.
As to the claim that the event might have caused the increase in Covid-19 cases in Camotes, Frasco said data from the Department of Health and the local government unit (LGU) show that from July 11 to 25, “there was no significant increase of positive cases.”
“On the contrary, the 15-day period subsequent the event showed either zero new cases or single digit cases, with most days having only one or two new cases,” he said.
Contact tracing records also showed that none of those who attended the event tested positive for coronavirus.
The lawmaker said he has not received a copy of the complaint filed against him but assured that he will support the police investigation and cooperate with the agencies involved.
Meanwhile, in an interview with radio dzBB, San Francisco Mayor Alfredo Arquillano said he was not aware of the event as he was not around then.
Arquillano said he had told the organizers to strictly follow health protocols before he approved the event.
DILG Secretary Eduardo Año has ordered the PNP to investigate the incident and file a case against the event’s organizers if warranted.
Año said organizing parties are prohibited regardless of the quarantine classification of an area.
“Let’s see who should be made to answer for this and we will file the appropriate charges if need be. We’ve said it time and again, at a time like this, parties are prohibited. If you are a government official, you have to set the example,” Año said in Tagalog. (With MVE)