Perils of delivering food and goods

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    ‘Both the Iloilo tragedy and the Muzon misencounter are emblematic manifestation of how law enforcers — mostly baton or gun wielders — whether public or private, relish the additional power that the pandemic endows to them, with tragic consequences.

    DURING this pandemic when jobs are scarce, many people, especially those who have lost their livelihoods, turned to the food delivery service, and companies in this sector have proliferated. They do not know, and are now beginning to realize, the perils that this occupation entails.

    In a bank in Iloilo City last March 31, a bank security guard was irked when delivery rider Jomar Sanchez, 35, unintentionally put down the food pack on top of the guard’s desk without noticing that there were documents that could get wet. Sanchez was shot several times by the offended guard, Argie Solis, 29, who fled the scene but was later captured by police in Barangay Ilabas, Sibalom, Antique. As a security guard, he obviously lacked training in anger management and use of firearms, and is unqualified to serve in security. He is now facing murder charges.

    A more popular incident was that in Barangay Muzon, San Jose del Monte City in Bulacan, where rider Marvin Ignacio was accosted by barangay officials for trying to deliver “lugaw” at 1 a.m. during curfew hours. The place is under enhanced community quarantine.

    The video on Ignacio’s confrontation with barangay officials led by Phez Raymundo became viral, as the barangay official declared that “lugaw is not an essential good” and that people can live without it. A big part of the local online community took the rider’s side in the ensuing debate. This even prompted presidential spokesman Harry Roque to declare thus: “A video, which has been circulating online, has come to our attention. Lugaw, or any food item for that matter, is considered an essential good. Delivery of food items must remain unhampered 24/7.”

    The incident did not end here, for after Raymundo and the chairman of Barangay Muzon, Marciano Gatchalian, both apologized, two activist women went to the barangay hall delivering hot lugaw with a note that it is delicious and essential, and complete with a video coverage. It was clearly a political statement which offended and insulted the barangay officials and the police, and the two women were arrested.

    Now, the lugaw saga continues, with Ignacio’s family and the owner of the lugawan being on the receiving end of threats from authorities, both police and barangay, or so the delivery man claims.

    Both the Iloilo tragedy and the Muzon misencounter are emblematic manifestation of how law enforcers — mostly baton or gun wielders — whether public or private, relish the additional power that the pandemic endows to them, with tragic consequences.