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Jailed for protesting and now sick: Two Piston 6 drivers test positive for COVID-19

Jailed for protesting and now sick: Two Piston 6 drivers test positive for COVID-19


Caloocan Representative Edgar Erice confirmed on June 18 that two of the six jeepney drivers who were previously arrested for their June 2 protest in Edsa-Monumento have tested positive for COVID-19.

Collectively known as Piston 6 for being members of the transport group Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operators Nationwide (Piston), Severino Ramos, Wilson Ramilla, Ramon Paloma, Ruben Baylon, Arsenio Ymas and Elmer Cordero faced charges of violating the ban on “non-essential” mass gathering and resisting and disobeying authorities upon arrest.

Detained in Caloocan for one week at the longest, concerns were raised regarding the six drivers’ health due to their ages ranging from 43 to 72.  As stated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the elderly are more vulnerable to COVID-19, and the drivers themselves raised concerns about the lack of physical distancing in the congested detention facility.

Additionally, two of them—72-year-old Cordero and 43-year-old Ramilla—walked free later than the others due to having a namesake with a criminal charge and an “undismissed previous carnapping case,” respectively.

Now, the worries of both the jeepney drivers and citizens have turned into reality as two of the Piston 6 members’ polymerase chain reaction (PCR) swab tests produced positive results.

The Caloocan representative said that they will not disclose the identities of the two jeepney drivers who tested positive for COVID-19. However, they assured the public that Cordero—the eldest of the six—was among those who tested negative.

Erice also asked the Caloocan police to disinfect the custodial facility and have the inmates take COVID-19 tests. Meanwhile, Caloocan police chief Colonel Dario Menor said that the drivers who tested positive could not have been infected in the cramped jail facility.

Cordero said that upon seeing the situation in the detention center on their first day, he told authorities to tie him to a tree instead while asking not to be put in the packed detention cell. He noted that due to his age, he felt very vulnerable to the virus especially in such a crammed area.


Header photo courtesy of Niño Jesus Orbeta/Inquirer

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Read more:

Finally free: Last of Piston 6 members, including 72-year old jeep driver, released after posting bail

Not all ‘Piston 6’ drivers are released yet

The reason why there are no jeeps on the road is not just safety protocols—which they’ve instituted BTW

Writer: YANN MAGCAMIT © 2020. Hinge Inquirer Publications, Inc.


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