Palace on LSIs crammed at Rizal stadium: There were lapses

Palace on LSIs crammed at Rizal stadium: There were lapses
Thousands of locally stranded individuals, who are beneficiaries of the second batch of the Hatid Tulong program, are surrounded by their belongings as they spend the night on the bleachers of the baseball stadium of the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex in Manila on July 24, 2020.
The STAR / Miguel de Guzman

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang and the Department of Health said there was a failure to enforce health standards to prevent the transmission of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at a baseball stadium in, where thousands of locally stranded individuals gathered.

Thousands of stranded Filipinos who sought the government’s “Hatid Tulong” program flocked to the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex over the weekend, raising concerns on the failure to impose physical distancing at the stadium.

Eight to nine of the LSIs crammed at the venue were suspected to have caught COVID-19.

“Bulag naman ako kung sasabihin kong walang pagkakamali doon. May pagkakamali doon,” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said in a press briefing Tuesday.

(I’d be blind if I say that there were no lapses there. There were mistakes there.)

“Dapat nagkaroon ng sistema. Bagamat maraming tao doon sa Rizal Memorial [Stadium], dapat siniguro ang social distancing,” Roque added.

(There should have been a system there. Despite the huge number of people at the Rizal Memorial Stadium, social distancing should’ve been ensured.)

DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire described the situation there as a mass gathering, which is not allowed under measures against coronavirus.

“That is a mass gathering. Hindi masyadong na-enforce ‘yung standards for health para maiwasan ang infection,” Vergeire said in an interview on Teleradyo.

Joseph Encabo, Presidential Management Staff assistant secretary, said Monday they had to choose the “lesser evil” when they decided to transfer the LSIs inside the cramped stadium amid heavy downpour.

“Intindihin na lang natin ang mga LSIs. Talagang atat na atat nang makauwi. ‘Yung iba nawalan ng pag-asang makauwi tapos nabuhayan ng loob kaya nagdagsaan sila sa Rizal Memorial Stadium,” Roque said.

Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said in an interview on Teleradyo that some 2,000 people out of the almost 8,000 individuals were still stranded at the stadium waiting for their trips. — Gaea Katreena Cabico

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