Nalzaro: Leave DepEd alone


GOV. Gwendolyn Garcia is opposed to the holding of the Central Visayas Regional Athletic Association (Cviraa) meet because of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19). She lambasted Department of Education (DepEd) 7 officials for insisting on holding the annual multi-sporting event in Dumaguete City from March 21 to 28, 2020. This is the second time that the regional meet has been postponed due to the Covid-19 scare. First, it was scheduled from Feb. 22 to 29, then from March 15 to 21. This was also to give enough time for the Dumaguete City Government to prepare the venue.

The governor is scheduled to meet with mayors of various component cities and municipalities in the province to ask them not to provide financial support to their respective delegations that will participate in Cviraa. It’s a common practice for school divisions that send athletes to the regional meet to solicit financial support from local government units (LGU) for the delegation’s transportation, food and other expenses during the event.

I can understand the concern of the honorable governor, especially since the Province is in the frontline in “combating” to avoid the spread of the deadly virus in our locality. It’s the Provincial Government that played host to arriving Cebuanos from the Covid-19-infected countries who have to undergo the 14-day quarantine period. The governor’s concern is the gathering of the student-athletes in that huge event may jeopardize the health safety of the participants. An estimated 14,000 athletes will be participating in the weeklong activities. The Cviraa is a qualifying event for the Palarong Pambansa, which is scheduled to take place in Marikina City, Metro Manila from May 1 to 9. All city and provincial divisions will send their delegations to the regional meet.

But the governor’s “ire” is misdirected. Why blame DepEd 7 officials when they are just following orders from their superiors at the Central Office? The governor should have raised her concern to the DepEd secretary and asked the National Government to cancel this kind of sporting activity.

If the National Government decides to cancel the Palarong Pambansa, then there is no reason for the DepEd to pursue the Cviraa. But what if the Palarong Pambansa will push through? So, Region 7 will have no delegation? The region’s delegation has consistently topped the event. Cebu Province is only one of the components of Central Visayas. There are other provinces and highly urbanized cities that will also participate. Gwen has to consult other local chief executives on this matter and not impose her own whims and caprices. Well, if she wants to boycott because of her apprehension, then let us respect her decision. No problem about it. Anyway, the Cebu City Niños, which I believe has the biggest delegation that includes top-caliber athletes, is committed to participate.

But I understand the DepEd 7 has already come with precautionary measures to safeguard the safety and security of the student delegates.

In its memorandum, DepEd “reminded all division officers to uphold child protection principles and that no learners shall be disadvantaged in any form and observe the safety protocols for all participants before, during and after the Cviraa meet. With this, all delegation officials are then directed to comply with all provisions of DepEd Order 66 series of 2017, which contains guidelines in the conduct of off-campus activities and prepare contingency plans for unexpected circumstances or emergencies that may happen anytime during the transport of the delegations from their respective areas to Dumaguete City and back, while the event is going on and at their billeting areas.”

I was informed that even DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones will be attending the Cviraa opening ceremonies. Besides, the huge gathering will only take place during the opening and closing ceremonies. The multi-sporting events will be held in different and separate venues. So, there is no need to be worried about the spread of the Covid-19.

As of this time, there is no local infection. The three persons who were earlier found positive with one death were from China. No Filipino has so far been infected with the virus. What if we require all athletes to wear masks during the games? Leave DepEd alone. They know best.

We may as well cancel the upcoming Suroy-Suroy Sugbo because it’s a huge gathering of local and foreign tourists.


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