Former singer calls out Richard Gomez on OFWs issue
STAR CIRCUIT - Ricky Calderon (The Freeman) - June 5, 2020 - 12:00am

Ormoc City Mayor Richard Gomez gained a lot of “pogi” points with how he is handling the Covid-19 virus situation in his turf. He and his team successfully prevented the virus from spreading in the city and in fact has been contained. Very few residents of Ormoc were affected by the virus. He was likewise praised with how he gave relief assistance to his constituents.

Mayor Goma’s actions about the returning OFWs, however, elicited a response from former singer and former Quezon City Councilor Anthony Castelo.

“I believe, it was poor judgment on the part of Mayor Richard Gomez of Ormoc City, Leyte to refuse entry to OFWs returning to their hometown from abroad recently,” he said in a statement.

Castelo added that he agrees with President Rodrigo Duterte’s recent statement addressed to Gomez and other local officials, saying, “There’s really no reason why you should not accept them (OFWs) with open arms.”

Castelo thinks that the actor-turned-Mayor could have been less “by-the-handbook” in making the decision.

“Yes, we are in a Covid-19 emergency and we can all relate to the Mayor’s predicament,” Castelo said. “But it is also an emergency situation when you have hundreds of OFWs already in the next town on their way home after having been stranded abroad for months. The good Mayor could’ve had more flexibility during such an eventuality, because in the state we are in, nothing is really predictable. Regardless if higher authorities had given you enough notice or not, one must address the pressing problem at hand.”

Castelo believes that Mayor Gomez had other options. He could have placed the OFWs in a holding area for identification, and tested all over again, considering they’ve already been cleared and deemed negative of the virus before being released in Manila. He also said that the Mayor could have had them quarantined again, if necessary, but at least they would have already reached their final destination with their families close by.

Certainly, Castelo said, it was not an option “to turn them away and be helplessly stranded again in a foreign place in their own country still away from their loved ones.”

He however admits that he admires Mayor Gomez, a showbiz colleague, for his commitment to discipline, good governance and for his outstanding community service in his city, and that he hopes this experience would be a “lesson- well-learned” for all, including other local officials, saying, “I believe we can all learn a thing or two from the wisdom and advice of well-experienced former local officials, like that of former Mayor and now President, Rodrigo Duterte.”

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