The Philippines, Land of Covid-19?

“No! That’s inappropriate, insensitive, and unhelpful.”

The Philippines cries foul over the contention headlined by a Thai newspaper, referring to the Philippines as ‘Land of Covid-19.’

By JULMUNIR I. JANNARAL
Managing Editor

The Philippine Embassy in Bangkok has scored on a Thai newspaper for referring to the Philippines as ‘Land of COVID-19.’

The embassy sent a letter, signed by Consul General Val Simon T. Roque, addressed to Thai Rath Editor in Chief Saravut Vacharapol.

Roque has expressed “deep dissatisfaction” over a story carried on August 9 by Thai Rath on returning Filipino teachers and branding the Philippines as the “Land of COVID-19.” 

“The Philippines Embassy wishes to express its deep dissatisfaction over the characterization in the headline of the Philippines in relation to the return of the teachers,” Roque said in the letter.

 “The characterization is inappropriate, insensitive, and unhelpful at a time when all of us, brothers and sisters in the Association of Southeast Asia Nations (ASEAN), are closely cooperating with the new and unforeseen challenges brought about by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19),” ConGen Roque stressed.

He said the Philippine embassy also assured the staff members and readers of the Thai newspaper that the teachers and other Filipinos returning to Thailand “are following and will strictly follow all the health protocols and quarantine conditions promulgated by the Royal Thai government.”

“We at the Philippine Embassy can also attest to the diligence and professionalism of Thai civil servants at the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Royal Thai Embassy in Manila, the airports, and the Ministry of Public Health in ensuring that the foregoing protocols and quarantine requirements are stringently followed so that the Kingdom can continue to manage the COVID situation very well,” said Roque.

Roque voiced hope that the statement issued by the embassy be relayed to the public through the Thai newspaper for the information of the general public, “so that we can all promote unity and harmony to effectively deal with the COVID-19 pandemic during this difficult time.” 

It can be recalled that the  headline of Thai newspaper was published after the Philippines overtook Indonesia as the country with the highest number of COVID1-19 cases in Southeast  Asia.

As this developed, Richard Barrow, a British expat living in Thailand for the past two decades, also said on his Twitter account, “Why do they need to insinuate that they come from the “land of COVID-19?”

As of Monday, the Philippines recorded a total of 136,638 positive cases of COVID-19 and with a death toll of 2,293 due to this dreaded Coronavirus.

Meanwhile in Indonesia, according to the Jakarta Post, the Health Ministry of Indonesia that the total number of Coronavirus infections as of Tuesday, August 11, 2020 has a total of 128,776 which is the official figures as of this writing.

On the other hand, as of August 12, 2020, the Philippines has recorded a total of 139,538 cases with a total death toll of 2,312.

In fact human rights advocates have warned against the rise of racial discrimination or known as xenophobia against people of countries like the Philippines with rising cases of COVID-19.

Again in Thailand on Wednesday on August 12, 2020, their local media reported that it was free from local coronavirus infections for the last 30 days.

According to Taweesilp Visanuyothin, the spokesman for the Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration, the Buddhist-majority nation has not reported any local COVID-19 infections for the last one month, daily Bangkok Post reported.

One new imported case was reported on Wednesday after a returnee from the Philippines tested positive for the virus.

“It shows the importance of Thai people-power, which has kept the country free of the disease for one month,” Visanuyothin said. JIJ

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