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Bulacan Gov vs. SBMA chief

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Fernando: Hindi ako lumabag sa IATF protocol

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT — Naniniwala si Bulacan Gov. Daniel Frnando na wala siyang nilabag sa ano mang quarantine protocols na nakasaad sa Inter Agency Task Force guidelines. Ito ang pahayag ng gobernador kaugnay ng isang insidente sa pagpunta nito sana sa Morong, Bataan kung saan siya ay pinigilan umano ni Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority chair Wilma Eisma.

Ito ay naganap nitong nakaraang May 8, kung kailan hindi pinayagan ni Eisma si Fernando at ang convoy nito na dumaan sa Subic Freeport upang maghatid sana ng tulong sa kaniyang kaanak at ilang mga Bulakenyong na-stranded sa Bataan.

Nabatid na pagdating ng convoy ni Fernando sa Tipo Gate ng SBMA sila ay sinabihan ng nakatalagansecurity na hindi sila puwedeng dumaan dahil sa pinaiiral lockdown kaugnay ng ECQ protocol.

Dahil dito, minabuti ni Fernando na kausapin si Eisma nang sa gayon ay makadaan sila dahil ito umano ang pinakamabilis na daanan papuntang Morong.

Paliwanag ng gobernador, kailangan makabalik agad siya sa Bulacan dahil meron itong mahahalagang appointment na dadaluhan kaya nais nito na makarating agad sa paroroonan, subalit bigo si Fernando.

Pinagsabihan pa umano ni Eisma si Fernando na maging halimbawa para sa ibang tao at sumunod na lang sa batas bagay na ikinasama ng loob ng gobernador.

Ayon kay Fernando, wala umano siyang nilalabag na batas kaugnay ng IATF guidelines at base umano sa sinasaad sa guidelines ay maaaring lumabas o pumunta sa alin mang lugar kung ikaw ay isang government official lalo na aniya kung ang pakay ay humanitarian service.

Sa pagkakataong iyon ay tinawagan ni Fernando si IATF chief Gen. Carlito G. Galvez upang alamin kung siya nga ba ay mayroong nilabag na ECQ protocol bagay na pinaboran umano ang gobernador.

“I am fully aware that I did not violate any law in accordance with the Omnibus Guidelines of the Community Quarantine issued by the IATF. As an APOR (Authorized Person Outside of Residence), I am allowed to travel within and across areas under any form of community quarantine in order to do my duty and render humanitarian service,” ani Fernando.

Upang hindi na humaba ang usapin ay minabuti ng punong lalawigan na bumalik na lamang bilang pagrespeto sa polisiya ni Eisma.

Bago pa makaalis ay nagtext message si Eisma sa security bodyguard ni Fernando na pumapayag na siya padaanin ang convoy at nagpaabot din ito ng paumanhin sa gobernador hinggil sa pangyayari subalit iginalang pa rin ni Fernando ang batas ng SBMA at hindi na tumuloy sa pag-aakalang tapos na ang naging usapin.

“Ang ikinasama lang po ng loob ko ay pinaghintay pa kami ng mahigit isang oras, tapos sinabihan pa ako na… “be a good example for others”, eh wala naman ako nilalabag,” ani Fernando.

Itinanggi rin ng gobernador na nag-offer si Eisma ng escort para ihatid ang grupo ni Fernando. “Wala po siya (Eisma) inalok to escort us kung meron edi walang naging problema”.

Pagkaraan ng halos dalawang linggo ay lumabas nitong May 20 ang isang artikulo sa isang national broadsheet ang nangyaring insidente na kung saan lumalabas na si Fernando umano ang nagkamali.

“I categorically deny that, as the article mentioned,  I savaged the administrator. Or that I said, Hindi mo man lamang ako binigyan ng galang. Hindi naman ako ordinaryong tao. I recall that although I was deeply upset at the time, I never said anything to mean that I am entitled to special treatment just because I am a governor. What I reiterated to her was that as a local chief executive, I am permitted by law to travel to respond to constituents locked down in another province and seeking my help,” ani Fernando.

“I believe na isa lamang itong misunderstanding na hindi na dapat pang pahabain, kung meron man ako nasabi na dinamdam niya (Eisma) na hindi ko naman intensyon ay humihingi ako ng pasensya. Ganun pa man ay saludo ako sa ipinakita niya at strict implementation ng quarantine guidelines sa kaniyang nasasakupan, pahayag ni Fernando.

Apela ni Fernando na sana ay huwag nang patulan at pahabain ang naturang insidente na hindi namanmakakatulong sa hinaharap na suliranin ng bansa kaugnay ng Covid-19 pandemic.


Eisma: We have better things to do

I WOULD have wanted to maintain my silence on this issue with Bulacan Gov. Cesar Fernando Ramirez (Daniel Fernando), which I have deemed unimportant in this time of a pandemic, but members of the media have been pressing me to say my piece considering that this matter has been the subject of a May 20 opinion piece by Manila Times publisher Dr. Dante Ang, and that Gov. Fernando himself had had his rejoinder published in the same paper the following day.

I don’t have much quarrel, by the way, with WHAT happened according to both stories, and indeed this statement will only serve to confirm much of what has already been said in both instances, to wit: (1) that I have denied a request by Gov. Fernando for him to pass through the Subic Bay Freeport on the way to Morong, Bataan; (2) that he became upset because of my refusal; and (3) that I apologized for having had to refuse him entry, but ultimately stood my ground.

But to clarify things, allow me to say briefly from my point of view WHY and HOW these happened:

At 3:41 pm on May 8, 2020, a senior SBMA staff received a text message from an intermediary informing him of a request for assistance from a 3-vehicle party of Gov. Fernando which was already at the Tipo Gate of the Subic Bay Freeport. They were reportedly on their way to Bataan through the Morong Gate to give donations, and asked if they would be allowed to pass through. I immediately responded: “If it’s for relief, ok. No stopping. Work with (the SBMA security men).

• However, the same intermediary soon texted my senior staff to say that “the truth was that the governor is going to check on his resort in Bataan” and that he was simply requesting to pass through the Morong Gate, and that there will be no “side trip” (presumably in the Freeport). To this I answered “No, only relief (operations) can be allowed.”
• At 4:04 pm, one Atty. Datsun, who introduced himself as an aide of Gov. Fernando, texted me to ask if the governor can call me up. I said yes, but added that if this was about the entry to Subic, I reminded him that we are strictly implementing the ECQ rules issued by President Duterte. I added: “I trust that it isthe leaders of the country like you and me who should follow it, so we can set an example to our people. If I will allow you to pass through, it’s only for one way. You have to go out through Morong.”

Atty. Datsun sounded amiable, so I further explained my position: that I refused them entry because I was advised that the governor was just going to visit his resort, and that under the circumstances I can only allow relief operations, and delivery of essential services. The governor’s aide then claimed that they are not going to visit any resort, because the governor has already sold his resort five years ago. He added that Gov. Fernando has long provided help to Morong because he has relatives there.
So I again apologized for having hurt the governor’s feelings, and explained again that I was just trying to do my job. Atty. Datsun said he understood my position, but that the governor was really offended.

• After that, I called up governor’s number that Atty. Datsun gave me. At this point, I was considering letting them pass through, so that the situation can be resolved there and then. But I was not prepared for what I heard. Gov. Fernando simply went ballistic! He said he had already turned back and going to Morong the long way (through Mariveles). Still he harped on his right as local chief executive to unhampered access.  I pointed out that that only applied to his own jurisdiction, the same way that I couldn’t have unhampered access in other areas outside of Subic Freeport during lockdown. When I said that I could have allowed them in if they were really bringing in relief goods, he retorted that what he had to give was cash. Again, I apologized but stood my ground. His harangue went on for more than an hour, until his party apparently entered a dead spot and I couldn’t hear him anymore.

In his Manila Times opinion piece, Dr. Ang described that Gov. Fernando “savaged” me during our conversation. In his story that came out next, Gov. Fernando “lamented that the story based on Eisma’s narrative painted a different story.”  Well, it has been a full two weeks after that incident on May 8, and it is only now that I am sharing my own story, my own narrative. Why? Because this issue shouldn’t occupy us these days when we are called upon to act on more important things.

I have asked for understanding and patience over what has happened. But I knew then, and I know now that I was just doing my job — which was to protect Subic, which has remained Covid-free 68 days into the community quarantine. Having said my side, I ask that we cast our differences aside and look forward to mutual understanding and respect. We have better things to do and our respective constituents expect us to do them. Thank you. SBMA chair and administrator Wilma Eisma, 21 May 2020

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