THE 2019 Novel Coronavirus claimed its first victim in Cebu last Sunday and she had never been to Wuhan. In fact, she did not even know if Wuhan was a city in China or the latest generation of a Pinoy card game, next to pusoy and tongits.
And no, thank God, she did not die, although the fate she suffered was more cruel than death. She was not even a carrier, which was how she was treated at the Mactan-Cebu International Airport.
Our victim was born Filipino in Cebu to Filipino parents who immigrated to the United States in the 80’s. The entire family eventually acquired US citizenship. Under the law, they are qualified for dual citizenship but none applied for it, and that turned out to be a grave omission in the time of 2019-nCoV.
She had planned on coming home for a brief vacation and her parents, who came ahead of her, had made arrangements for them to spend time together in Boracay starting yesterday. Last Saturday, she left the US brimming with excitement. The following day, her parents were waiting for her at the airport, just as excited as she was.
Excitement quickly turned to frustration and eventually despair, however, as she was prevented from deplaning along with many other passengers who were not Philippine passport holders. Reason: The plane had a two-hour layover in Hongkong before proceeding to Mactan.
She tried to explain that she never went out of the airport during the brief period that she was there but the immigration men were unmoved. They had explicit orders to follow: Anyone coming from China or any of its administrative regions who is not a Filipino citizen is barred entry to the Philippines because of the 2019-nCoV scare.
So she flew back on the same plane without being able to step on even a single inch of space in the land of her birth.
Last week, I saw a photo of the smiling faces Cebu City Councilor Niña Mabatid and Cebu City Office of Substance Abuse Prevention (Cosap) Head Jonah John Rodriguez together. A few days earlier, Mabatid had accused Rodriguez of tampering with the results of her Cosap drug test.
I would like to believe that both have cleared the air and reconciled but in fairness to Rodriguez, I will still give space to his reply to what I wrote about their quarrel last Friday. By way of disclosure, Jonah John comes from my wife’s hometown and I know his family rather well.
Rodriguez clarified that they do not release the names of employees who failed in the screening test. Instead, their results are forwarded to the City Legal Office and the Human Resources Department as prescribed by City Ordinance 1829, which was authored by then City Councilor Edgar Labella.
This protocol was followed in the case of Mabatid, he said. He did not reveal her screening test result to anyone other than to Mabatid herself and Vice Mayor Michael Rama in the latter’s capacity as the head of the City Council. “I even asked the good VM to please ask about her prescription (drug) so it will be sent together with her urine sample for further analysis or confirmatory test,” Rodriguez said.
The test result clearly said that it was “For Further Analysis,” he claimed.