Mabatid and the police
OFF TANGENT - Aven Piramide (The Freeman) - March 29, 2020 - 12:00am

Hanging on the wall of the library of the UV Secondary Department was a quote by English philosopher Francis Bacon: “Reading maketh a full man, writing an exact man”. I was third year in high school in 1965 when I first read that and, in all candidness, until now I haven’t grown to be a full man even if I confess to have read some tomes myself, neither have I become an exact man.

The other day, there was a news item about the impending filing of a criminal complaint (or complaints) by the police against Cebu City Councilor Nina Mabatid, of the North District. I got interested in the story not only because I am a voter of the district but because the supposed legal action arose out a reported Facebook posting she made. This early, let me put on record that, for my own reasons, I don’t spend much time on social media. So, I had to scramble to get hold of what Mabatid wrote. I want to graduate both the action of our police officials and whatever Mabatid wrote vis-a-vis Bacon’s words.

Hoping that I got the exact text of the councilor’s posting, and on which basis the police is preparing their legal move, I thought of printing it here ex abudante ad cautilam. “3 died already with suspected COVID here in Cebu City. Namatay na lang wapa gihapon na confirm. I can just imagine pila na kaha kabuok positive. I believe there are more than 10 already that are in the hospitals now. So pls stay home everyon. This is the only way to slow down the spread of the virus."

The truth of the matter is that the Department of Health is regularly holding press conferences updating us of COVID-19. We have become familiar with the faces of Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire and Regional Director Jaime Bernadas, who constantly give us statistics like how many have tested positive, the number of recoveries, of deaths, of PUMs and PUIs etc. and the health protocols we are to observe. If my memory can still be relied on, the figures released by the DOH showed that, as of the other day, there was only one COVID-19 positive in Mandaue. No death was reported in Metro Cebu, thank God.

Aside from the official bulletins issued by health officialdom, we get news from everywhere, mainly the internet. Most of these reports are unofficial and by their nature they travel faster. Even if they do not carry the approval of higher-ups, some appear reasonably factual. The readings by Mabatid of these unofficial reportage could be the basis when she sighed that there could be more than the reported one positive hereabouts. To such extent, Bacon said Mabatid could be full. Her exact words were “I can just imagine xxx”. But when she wrote what she imagined, she was not, in Bacon’s quote, exact.

The reading by the police of Mabatid’s posting is, quite unfortunately, not full, reckoning Bacon’s statement. How could they claim that the councilor violated some laws for expressing the view that there could be more than just one COVID-19-positive in Metro Cebu? She was within her constitutional right in airing a concern. In fact, when Mabatid asked everyone accessed by her social media account to stay home as it was the only one (believed) to slow down the spread of the virus, she helped health authorities.

In the light of the complexities Mabatid and the police are in, am I understood when I admit that I have yet to become full and exact?

aa.piramide@gmail.com

NINA MABATID
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