COVID-19 survivor and broadcast journalist Howie Severino was accosted this afternoon by the authorities in Quezon City when he removed his face mask to have a drink.
Photographer Luis Liwanag captured images of Severino as he was taken by officials in a post that has been shared almost 10,000 times.
“Journalist Howie Severino who momentarily pulled down [h]is mask for a drink, is apprehended by village officers and police and was brought to the [A]moranto stadium for a short seminar on proper use of face masks in public. About hundreds of persons including women and the elderly were brought in,” wrote Liwanag.
Liwanag has not responded to Coconuts Manila’s request for comments.
In the post’s comments section, Severino told fellow journalist Luz Rimban that the incident happened while he was having a drink with Liwanag near a corner bike store.
In another message, Severino said that when he was at the Amoranto, he noticed that there were a lot of people who were brought in for the seminar.
“I offered to give the talk on Covid hehe. [But] they just allowed me to go home after I told them I had just finished drinking,” he wrote.
In a post that followed the incident, Severino said he saw Liwanag at Mother Ignacia Street, where the incident happened.
“We bought drinks at the store next door, and drank them after pulling down our masks below the mouth (because we have not learned to drink yet with masks on). We were all outdoors where the risk of infection is much lower than indoors and maintained at least four feet distance from each other. I had just finished my drink and returned the bottle to the store before I could pull my mask back up, when at least two vehicles of QC law enforcers arrived to tell me I was talking without my mask covering my mouth and had to be brought to Amoranto for a seminar,” he said.
“However, I am kind of glad that as QC is an epicenter of the disease in the Philippines, they are finally doing something, even if it’s a bit draconian. I even offered to give a talk at the seminar. Instead they returned my bike and told me I could go home,” the award-winning documentary filmmaker added.
Quezon City, like the rest of Metro Manila, has made wearing face mask mandatory to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
While Severino appeared unperturbed by what happened, other people were annoyed and even angry. Eunice Novio wrote, “How can someone wearing a mask have a drink? These fools become worse each day.”
Nicky Gocuan said, “What is wrong with these people? They need to be reprimanded. What needs to be practiced is social distancing. Mr. Howie Severino does not need a lecture on how to use a mask. How anyone drink? Is there a law that forbids Howie from drinking water or whatever it was? In fact , I know he knows better than most of you do. There are more important task that needs attention. You’re wasting your salary that comes from taxpayers’ money. Do these people have name tags at least visible?”
Meanwhile, Ernesto Enqirue accused the officials of being a bunch of “power trippers.”
Do you think the officials went overboard? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment below or tweeting to @CoconutsManila.
This article, Howie Severino accosted by Quezon City officials after removing facemask to drink, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company. Want more Coconuts? Sign up for our newsletters!