Journalist Howie Severino reportedly questioned for briefly not wearing face mask

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 08 2020 12:33 PM | Updated as of Jul 08 2020 02:18 PM

MANILA (UPDATE) - Journalist Howie Severino was questioned Wednesday after he "momentarily" pulled down his mask for a drink after riding his bike in Quezon City, a photojournalist said.

Severino was brought to the Amoranto Stadium and was among hundreds, including women and elderly, who were given a seminar on the proper use of face masks in public, according to photojournalist Luis Liwanag.

Wearing of face masks is mandatory under the city's local ordinance.

 

Severino, in a related Facebook post, said he and his companions were all wearing masks when they made a stop at a bike shop in Mother Ignacia and bought drinks at a nearby store.

"We were all outdoors where the risk of infection is much lower than indoors and maintained at least four feet distance from each other," he said.

"I had just finished my drink and returned the bottle to the store before I could pull my mask back up, when at least two vehicles of QC law enforcers arrived to tell me I was talking without my mask covering my mouth and had to be brought to Amoranto for a seminar."

The journalist said he informed local government employees that he was previously a COVID-19 patient and has since tested negative for the virus thrice and tested positive for antibodies. 

In April, Severino said he had contracted the respiratory illness and that he was the country's COVID-19 patient 2828.

"However, I am kind of glad that as QC is an epicenter of the disease in the Philippines, they are finally doing something, even if it’s a bit draconian. I even offered to give a talk at the seminar. Instead they returned my bike and told me I could go home," he said.

Severino said the QC government did not conduct contact tracing following his positive test result for the coronavirus.

"Aggressive contact tracing has been proven in other countries to be a key to success in this pandemic. I am assuming their intent in taking people to a mass gathering in a stadium is to control the spread of the infection and save lives," he said.

"I have followed all other safety protocols including a long isolation and quarantine after my discharge from the hospital, until I was officially declared a recovered patient. I have donated plasma for gravely ill patients. I’m very grateful that no one I was in contact with got infected. I’m a lucky person who has gone back to doing things I like to do, including early morning bike rides."

 

As of Tuesday, the Philippines has reported 47,873 cases of COVID-19, with 1,309 deaths and 12,386 recoveries.