In a recent FB Live, Cebu Gov. Gwen Garcia took on her critics. Photo from @GwenGarciaCebu on Facebook
Culture Spotlight

Opinion: Cebu governor shamed 2 medical frontliners in Facebook Live—and got some nasty backlash

Gov. Gwen Garcia challenged two doctors in an FB live event. Her past came back to haunt her. BY JACS T. SAMPAYAN 
ANCX | Jun 25 2020

“Next time you want to criticize us, run (for office),” says Cebu Gov. Gwen Garcia.

Speaking in Cebuano in a recent Facebook live, the 64-year-old Governor took on two critics, who commented about a recent memo coming out of the capitol. Memorandum No. 36-2020 “enjoined” Cebu Provincial Government department heads and employees to practice hot steam inhalation, or tu-ob, twice-a-day at their work stations. Tu-ob kits were passed around in order for them to do this practice, which is aligned with the governor’s more… alternative means against COVID-19, which also includes taking turmeric ginger tea and calamansi juice, and staying under the sun for at least 30 minutes.

The two critics, who are both doctors, seemed quite frustrated by the memo. The first, who Garcia named as Dr. Candy Krista Pilapil in her FB broadcast, says it sounded like a prescription. Doing so is potentially harmful, the doctor says. The Governor cited the recommendations of Dr. Dale Pasco, who is an advocate of hydrotherapy, and seemingly sneered at the doctor’s two-year experience. “Maybe you’re more knowledgeable about aerosolization,” Garcia says in Cebuano, emphasizing each syllable of the last word with barely hidden disdain. “If you are looking down on me, then no one is stopping you from running.”

The other mentioned doctor-critic was apparently a lot more graphic in her social media contempt against the Governor, expressing her own exhaustion from risking her life working with COVID patients all the time. “Maybe she wants to get slapped… perhaps you want me to set you on fire so you’ll get cremated.” To this, Garcia was similarly feisty, calling the doctor’s words as unethical. “You will answer to this. I will file a complaint against you to the proper authorities,” the governor says.

Many people online sided with the frontliners, with the hashtag #NoToDoctorShaming trending yesterday. Those posting brought up everything from the elected official’s past graft charges to her supposedly being onion-skinned when it comes to criticism. Some picked at her disparaging “two-year experience” comment saying that a doctor’s training is a lot more extensive and demanding than that of, say, a public official. 

Others also pointed at a recent carping against Garcia for her Trumpian practice of not wearing a mask, and defending it with a capslocked explanation involving inhaling back her own Carbon Dioxide.

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Region VII as a whole, and Cebu City specifically, has been closely monitored in the past few weeks because of its staggering COVID numbers. As of June 23, Cebu City leads all Philippine cities in terms of number of cases, with continuous spikes in numbers. This prompted the suspension of quarantine passes last Tuesday, and the placing of stricter measures over the Visayan capital. They are also considering 10 of its barangays on hard lockdown. (There are also contending with a random case of missing around 17,000 chickens, but that’s drama for another day.) (Riveting update: They've been found.)

We agree that physical threats—even out of frustration—should never be condoned. But picking fights that do not chip at the bigger challenge of saving lives sound only petty to us, and might not help a public official who has been criticized for gravitating toward style than substance. And we are sure that frontliner shaming doesn’t look good on anyone.