How crazy can we get at this time of the pandemic
By Marivir R. Montebon
New York – While the world is turned upside down by this invisible enemy COVID19, it’s sad to see how government can still have time to be brutal, and in my birthplace at that.
Last weekend, a friend told me in our private chat room that our friend Maria Victoria “Bambi” Beltran was arrested for charges on cybercrime on early Sunday morning in Cebu. The heck. Another bad news in this time of the pandemic, I sighed.
Bambi’s Facebook posting earned the ire of Cebu City Mayor Labella and remarked that it was fake news and that she will be arrested for it. The post read: “9000+ new cases (All from Zapatera) of COVID19 in Cebu City in one day. We are now in the epicenter of the whole Solar System.”
But that’s funny…epicenter of the solar system! Have they become so dull already? I asked my friend.
Bambi, a local actress, poet, writer, and entrepreneur, has done several indie films and runs her own restaurants and gallery in Cebu. She is punchy, like a real stand-up comedian who lashes out political opinion through humor and satire.
Bambi’s post was not “fake news” as Mayor Labella remarked. It wasn’t news. It was a funny remark after reading an article quoting DOH that regarded Zapatera as “infected” which was an inaccurate description.
Here is the backstory to this satire.
Bambi was reacting to The Freeman article which bylined Mitchelle Palaubsanon and Ivy Chua that mentioned the DOH as having referred to the entire Zapatera to be “infected” following the test results of some residents found to be COVID19 positive.
The word “infected” was not accurate. The DOH could have pronounced Barangay Zapatera as “exposed”, not infected (because it has not tested all 9000 people, anyway). Exposed is the accurate word, given the density of people in the cramped neighborhood.
In pandemic parlance, an infected person is one who has contracted the virus in his or her system. This is determined only through testing. Infected people thus need to be isolated and treated.
The term “exposed” applies to those whom the infected person has been in contact with or those living around him/her. People who live with infected persons are considered “exposed” and must self-isolate at home and continue to practice social distancing.
Therefore, the use of “infected” by the Cebu DOH whether the entire village was “assumed infected” or “considered infected” was inaccurate, simply because not everyone (in the village) was tested and yielded positive results.
So read again, “9000+ new cases (All from Zapatera) of COVID19 in Cebu City in one day. We are now in the epicenter of the whole Solar System…” and laugh at the hyperbole! To a neophyte or veteran journalist, this is not news.
This situation is an eye-opener for me. DOH Cebu needs to use precise terms for its public statements and for media practitioners to dig deeper. Definition of terms is a way to put everyone on the same page.
More painfully, Bambi’s arrest is an infringement of her freedom to (satirical) expression. She has to be released now. Mayor Labella should know better that anyone cannot be arrested arbitrarily, without court warrant.
At this time of the pandemic, what stupidity is this.
(Update April 21, 2020: Bambi Beltran is out on bail and is back in her residence. She needs to breathe deeply and rest up after this unnecessary ordeal. My fervent prayer is that she won’t be sick for having been stressed and exposed inside the jail for her warrantless arrest.)