Cabaero: No sorry needed - SunStar

Cabaero: No sorry needed

by Nini Cabaero

Beyond 30

What were the circumstances behind the tearful apology of unvaccinated vendor Gemma Parina, following her outburst against the transportation policy denying a ride to those not fully vaccinated?

Parina was interviewed by Radyo Inquirer last Thursday, January 20, 2022, in which she said the government should not discriminate against those who have not been fully vaccinated. She said she did not get herself jabbed because of her health condition. “May sakit ako sa puso. May high blood ako. May diabetes ako. Ngayon ‘pag magpapavaccine ako ngayon din sa harap ni Duterte, kung namatay ako, sasagutin niya?,” Parina said in the interview. She said she would have to walk from the marketplace to her house because she did not have a vaccination card to show enforcers who were stopping public vehicles to check on compliance with the “no vaccination, no ride” policy.

Parina, a market vendor at the Paco Market in Manila, also described as harassment of the poor this new transport rule as she criticized government’s handling of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic. “Alam mo ang ikaso ko sa kanila? Harassment. Ano, wala na tayong human rights? Dapat lahat ng Pilipino magkaisa may vaccine man o wala, kasi (deleted) na tayo ng gobyernong ‘yan eh,” she said.

The next day, on January 21, an video showed Parina tearfully apologizing for her outburst. She said she did not mean to criticize President Rodrigo Duterte as she explained her outburst was out of exasperation over her debts and dire financial situation. In between sobs, she apologized for her remarks and said she wanted a peaceful life, that’s all.

It wasn’t clear in the video report why she felt she had to apologize. She obviously did not seek out the Inquirer video crew for a second take, nor did she seek the first interview in the first place. It didn’t look like she called the video crew to her house for a second interview to apologize.

Her tearful apology looked sincere and she did not show any sign that she was forced or threatened to say sorry. But somehow she must have felt scared that her outburst would have consequences for her.

This is to tell Parina she didn’t have to say sorry. Her first statements were strong, direct, and honest. The first video interview showed another vendor in the background applauding her, so Parina’s sentiments were not hers alone.

It was the government that should have apologized to her, said sorry that she had to suffer and be overwhelmed by the circumstances.

People should be allowed to express their sentiments and to give their opinion on matters that impact them. They should never feel sorry for participating in society by saying out loud what they feel about the government’s actions, by airing their sorrows. It is empowering to be able to express how one feels about the transgression of rights and the violation of their peace.

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