Single mother Michelle Silvertino died after days of living on a footbridge in Pasay, waiting for a bus back to Bicol.
It was later revealed that the 33-year-old mother of four had tested positive for COVID-19 and was waiting to be swabbed for confirmatory testing.
In a segment on "Unang Hirit," Atty. Gaby Concepcion discussed the issue and said local government officials could face raps for dereliction of duty should they have failed to act on reports about Silvertino's situation.
"Unang una, ito nga ang tinatawag nating dereliction of duty bilang isang halal na opisyal ng barangay, at lalong lalo na nga ngayon sa panahon ng COVID-19 na meron talagang obligasyon to assist all persons who may possibly be infected with COVID," Concepcion explained.
Concepcion said it was also possible that the officials violated the "Bayanihan to Heal As One Act" should they have failed to provide immediate assistance to Silvertino, possibly also endangering the lives of other people in the process.
"Kaya nga nagkaroon ng emergency batas, 'Bayanihan to Heal As One Act,' na dito talaga nakaemphasize ang obligasyon at responsibilidad ng opisyales natin ng local goverment unit," said the legal expert.
"Pangalawa, kung palagay nila ay talagang infected ito ng coronavirus, dapat ay mabigyan ng compulsory at immediate assistance at i-isolate kaagad itong taong to kung talagang binigyan ng first aid at relief at in-isolate, ay talagang in-endanger lang nila 'yung buhay ng taong to kung di yung mga tao sa buong barangay," she added.
Concepcion hopes Silvertino's case would shed light on the situation of commuters as ordinary people who could be exposed to COVID-19, which has claimed over 1,000 people and infected more than 23,000 as of Wednesday.
"Locally stranded, pag iniisip mo, pupunta siya ng [Bicol]. Ang hirap pag ordinaryong tao ka, napakahirap. Kukuha ka ng pass, hindi lamang sa local police, hindi lamang sa local police…so napakahirap, wala na ngang sasakyan pano pa kukunin ang police clearance, ang medical clearance, so napakahirap talaga sa ordinaryong tao na magkaroon ng sakit sa panahong ito," the lawyer said.
According to initial reports, Michelle Silvertino died last Friday after waiting on a footbridge along EDSA for several days.
She was waiting for a bus back home to Bicol.
Instead, her remains were buried without being seen by her four children, whom she last saw in January.
Authorities later revealed that she tested positive for COVID-19 and was waiting to be swabbed for her confirmatory test when she passed away at a Pasay City pedestrian overpass.
The local government of Calabanga in Bicol has extended P5,000 worth of cash assistance to her family. — Margaret Claire Layug/LA, GMA News