MMDA spox Pialago says sorry but stands by post on detained activist Nacino

Robie de Guzman   •   October 19, 2020   •   423

MMDA spokesperson Celine Pialago

MANILA, Philippines – Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) spokesperson Celine Pialago on Monday apologized to detained activist Reina Mae Nacino for her controversial remark about her plight and her late infant, Baby River.

Pialago drew flak over the weekend for her social media post where she urged the public to know Nacino’s story first before sympathizing with her.

In her post on Sunday, Pialago criticized Nacino’s supporters, whom she said are turning her grief and plight into a “drama serye.”

Nacino, an urban poor organizer facing charges of illegal possession of explosives and firearms, was only allowed by the court a few hours to attend the wake and burial of her three-month old infant.

Baby River died of pneumonia last Oct 9 while Reina Mae remained in detention. The infant was buried on Friday at the Manila North Cemetery, with critics blasting the strong presence of police and jail guards escorting Nacino.

Pialago apologized to those who thought her comment was insensitive to the plight of mothers who lost their child, but stressed she won’t take back her “drama serye” remark.

“When I posted drama serye, I didn’t mean na tratuhing drama yung hinagpis ni Reina it’s not that… I never meant na dapat hindi sya maghinagpis bilang isang ina. Nawalan rin ako ng mga mahal ko sa buhay, I know the feeling wag nating ilipat dun sa context na yun,” she said in an interview.

“Ang dating kasi nung iba dun sa sinabi kong drama serye wala na siyang karapatang maghinagpis kasi political prisoner siya. Ang dating wala na siyang karapatang bumisita eh binigyan nga sya ng furlough eh… nakikidalamhati kami sayo sa aspeto na yan dahil wala nang sasakit pa sa mamatayan ng anak,” she added.

She said she did not mean to attack Nacino’s grief with the loss of her baby when she used the term.

She also emphasized that the “drama serye” she was referring to were people who were “capitalizing” on Nacino’s situation to gain sympathy from the public and turn them against the government.

“Stop thinking doon sa mga hindi nakakaintindi. Stop thinking na I’m insensitive enough for them. Pero please, sana naman… Salamat doon sa mga nakakaintindi na ang pinupunto nung drama serye huwag palakihin, wag gamitin yung unfortunate situation para lang ma-highlight na mapang-api ang gobyerno,” she said.

Pialago also stressed that her comment is her own and not part of her role as MMDA’s spokesperson.

MMDA general manager Jojo Garcia echoed Pialago’s statement and assured that her opinion does not reflect the agency’s stand on the issue.

“Nagsalita siya at her own capacity, it’s not the stand of MMDA. Kung may personal opinion siya, it’s her right to say that,” Garcia said.

“I think Asec. Celine is responsible enough to handle yung ganitong klase ng mga situation,” he added.

Malacañang, meanwhile, refused to comment and would rather let Pialago handle the issue.

“Tingin ko po personal na opinion niya yan, hindi naman po kasi related sa MMDA yang issue, so hayaan po natin na magkaroon ng personal na opinion si Spokesperson Pialago,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said.

Nacino and two others were arrested in Tondo, Manila in November 2019 for alleged illegal possession of firearms and explosives. She was one month pregnant at the time of her arrest.

She gave birth last July and was ordered separated from her baby in August despite her pleadings filed before Manila Regional Trial Court. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Joan Nano)

MMDA defers closure of EDSA-Bagong Barrio U-turn slot

Marje Pelayo   •   December 4, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) has deferred the closure of the U-turn slot along General Malvar in EDSA Bagong Barrio, Caloocan City.

Based on the agency’s advisory, it will be closed on January 4 next year instead of December 7.

The closure of EDSA U-turn slots is in line with the EDSA Busway project.

The agency advises motorists to regularly check its official social media accounts for latest updates.

Image may contain: text that says 'MMDA ADVISORY NOV 30, 2020 CLOSURE OF EDSA U-TURN SLOT near General Malvar/Bagong Barrio Starting Decembe ASOFDEC3,2020 POSTPONED AS 4, 2021 TO JANUARY CLOSED EDSA U-TURNE SLOT tots Sartes @MMDAPH @MMDA'

Minors in NCR still barred outdoors except for exercise, essential purposes – MMDA

Robie de Guzman   •   December 3, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) on Thursday said that Metro Manila mayors have agreed to still prohibit minors from going outdoors amid the threat of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

MMDA general manager Jojo Garcia said Metro Manila mayors unanimously agreed to disallow minors from entering commercial establishments and other outdoor areas such as shopping malls.

“Unanimous po ano, 17-0 na Mayors will not allow minors to go out. That’s why yung ating GCQ guidelines na 18 to 65, yun pa din yung papayagang lumabas,” he said.

Garcia said they came up with the decision after meeting with health experts, including the Philippine Pediatric Society and the Pediatric Infectious Disease Society of the Philippines.

“Because of having high immune system, pediatrics experts said that minors who are infected with COVID-19 are usually asymptomatic carriers of the virus. They might be transmitting the virus unknowingly, especially to those vulnerable,” he said.

“Persons aged 18-65 years old are the only ones allowed to go inside malls in Metro Manila,” he added.

Garcia, however, said that essential activities done inside the malls such as medical and dental check-ups, buying of food, and medicines are allowed for all ages, including minors and senior citizens “as long as the minimum health protocols such as wearing of face mask and face shield and observing of physical distancing are strictly observed.”

Minors are also allowed to do non-contact sports such as biking and jogging, subject to interpretation of local government units through their respective existing ordinances, he added.

Garcia said that both the mall owners and the LGUs have the responsibility to ensure that no minors will be allowed to go inside their establishments and other outdoor areas amid enforcement of quarantine protocols. The imposition of penalties will also depend on the LGUs according to existing directives.

The Department of Health earlier insisted that minors aged 14 and below, as well as senior citizens aged 66 and above, should still not be allowed to go out due to the risk of contracting COVID-19. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Asher Cadapan Jr.)

Another EDSA U-turn slot to close Dec. 7 – MMDA

Robie de Guzman   •   December 1, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Another U-turn slot along EDSA would be closed to vehicular traffic starting next week, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) said.

In an advisory, the MMDA said the EDSA-Bagong Barrio U-turn slot will be closed starting December 7.

Affected motorists are advised to take the Monumento Circle as an alternative route.

The MMDA said the closure of EDSA U-turn slots is in line with the EDSA Busway project.

“Isinasara ang mga U-turn slot sa EDSA bilang bahagi ng patuloy na efforts ng MMDA para mapabilis ang biyahe ng mga commuters sa EDSA Carousel Bus Routes,” it said.

“Inaasahan ang kooperasyon at buong pag-unawa ng lahat,” it added. The MMDA began gradually closing U-turn slots along EDSA last September.

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