Photos taken by Caabay to highlight growing discontent in Culion residents due to reported lack of food supplies and employment brought about by strict quarantine measures. On the right, Culion residents hold candle vigils in their homes to bring attention to their plight as well as a call for prayers to end the ongoing surge of COVID-19 cases in the town.

A heated exchange between Culion Mayor Virginia de Vera and the town’s parish priest Fr. Roderick Caabay has sparked anew on social media over the handling of the town’s Covid situation.

The municipality on Tuesday, June 22, issued a statement denouncing Caabay’s statement that the local situation is inadequately being attended to by the local government, claiming among others that the quarantine facilities were deficient. Several areas of the town had been placed under strict lockdown due to a surge of local cases.

A letter by Culion mayor Virginia de Vera calling Caabay’s posts and call to action as malicious and destructive. // Photo courtesy of Culion Municipality Facebook page

Caabay has also called for a peaceful candle lighting and prayer vigil among the local faithful on Monday, June 21, to call attention on the town’s plight.

In a rejoinder and public statement, de Vera dismissed Caabay’s social media posts as untrue and “malicious” and asserted that the local health crisis is “under control”.

“Muling inaasahan ng lokal na pamahalaan ang pagsunod sa mga alituntunin at pananatili sa ating mga tahanan at patuloy na panalangin para sa bawat isa. Huwag po tayong magpapadala sa mga malisyosong mga distractions,” De Vera said  in the notice.

“Sa unang pabatid ay ipinahayag ng lokal na pamahalaan na ang kasalukuyang sitwasyon ay ‘under control’ at ang pagtaas ng insidente ay dahil sinigurado ng LGU tracing team na mahanap ang lahat ng close contacts at hindi lamang household members. Inaasahan din ang mabilisang pagbaba ng bilang sa mga susunod na araw,” she added.

She said that there is also a “pasuyo system” going on for those who need to arrange errands or buy groceries.

Meanwhile, Caabay has been unable to travel back to Culion after leaving the island sometime in May, as the municipality had refused to grant him a permit to return claiming that his departure was not coordinated with the local government as required by health protocols.

The two had been at odds since the plebiscite in March on the division of Palawan into three separate provinces, where Caabay had led a strong local opposition against the Yes and emerged triumphant.

“Noong ako ay hindi ninyo binigyan ng acceptance letter, did you ever hear me speak about myself, unjust as it may for me? No. Pero pag pinag-usapan ang gutom na ng mamamayan at ang inyong pang-aapi, yon ang di ko na matitiis,” Caabay said in a post.

“Haka-haka ba ang maraming tawag sa akin ng mga parokyanong nagugutom? Ang mga recorded interview ko sa kanila, ang mga messages at mga Facebook postings nila? Malisyoso ba ang pagpapahayag ng pangangailangan at hinaing ng tao sa gutom at sa reklamo ng inyong pang-aabuso sa pamamahala?” he added.

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is a senior reporter for Palawan News who covers politics, education, environment, tourism, and human interest stories. She loves watching Netflix, reading literary fiction, and listens to serial fiction podcasts. Her favorite color is blue.