MANILA - Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte on Friday apologized for losing her composure on social media, and for distributing health kits with her name on it.
"You are correct that all the projects implemented by the QC government belong to you, as they are funded by your taxes. When I was elected as Mayor, I was given the honor and privilege to serve all QC residents, regardless of political affiliation," she said in a statement.
"Pero alam kong isang malaking pagkakamali na nakapag-post ako ng mga salitang taliwas dito. Inaamin ko po na nagkamali ako."
(But I know I made a wrong post about this. I admit I made a mistake.)
The mayor earlier blasted those who criticized her government's alleged "slow" distribution of aid for residents affected by the month-long Luzon coronavirus lockdown, saying those who "hate" her are not obliged to accept any of her projects.
Before that, some Quezon City residents complained on social media that their villages had not yet received aid from the city government after losing their sources of income due to the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) meant to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
Belmonte also apologized for distributing health kits with her name on it, which irked some residents.
"While it is true that my team used leftover donated bags from the previous campaign and that they were the most readily available bags on the first day of ECQ, it is clear that this was highly insensitive given the circumstances. Inaamin ko po na nagkamali ako (I admit I made a mistake)," she said.
"When I reflect on these actions, I do not recognize the public servant that I aspire to be. The citizens of Quezon City deserve better. I will do better."
Belmonte, meanwhile, said there is an "ongoing misinformation campaign viciously directed against the QC local government on social media fueled by thousands of paid trolls." She called on residents and netizens to be "very critical" about posts on online platforms.
"Huwag po tayong magpadala sa 'fake news' at trolls. Sa halip na tumulong at makiisa sa lungsod para malampasan ang COVID-19, may mga taong sinasamantala ang krisis para sa kanilang pansariling interes," she said.
(Let's not be carried away by fake news and trolls. Instead of helping and uniting with the city to overcome COVID-19, there are people who are taking advantage of the crisis for their personal interests.)
The local executive cited an article by ABS-CBN News which supposedly reported 3 COVID-19 patients were sent home by the Quezon City government.
"First, the QC government never sent home 3 COVID-19 positive patients; it was the hospitals that sent them home. That perception was due to an error by ABS-CBN, which they have since corrected," she said.
(Editors' note: news.abs-cbn.com belies the statement of Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte that we erred in reporting on March 22, 2020 about the 3 COVID-19 positive patients in Quezon City. We never reported that it was Mayor Belmonte who sent home the 3 patients, only that they were sent home as she announced on ANC. We also updated our story to include her clarification that it was the hospitals who sent home the patients based on the protocol. Click here for story: 3 COVID-19 patients in QC sent home due to lack of space in health facilities: mayor
Belmonte also cited an article by the newspaper Manila Bulletin which reportedly said that some food packs distributed by the city government were overpriced at P2,500 each.
"I am disheartened that whoever is funding this misinformation campaign has taken advantage of one of the most difficult times in our history to sow confusion, uncertainty, and distrust. They have chosen to create divisiveness at a time when we need to be most united against an invisible enemy that knows no bounds," she said.
She called on Quezon City residents to unite and look after one another during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Ang Quezon City ay hindi lamang po isang lungsod. Ito ang ating tahanan, kung saan tayo dapat panatag at ligtas. Samahan po ninyo kami sa pangangalaga at pakikipaglaban para sa ating tahanan. Sa tulong ng Panginoon, mapagtatagumpayan po natin ang labang ito."
(Quezon City is not just a city. This is our home, where we are safe and comfortable. Accompany us in caring and fighting for our home. With the help of God, we will win this battle.)