Espinoza: Mandaue City should now be a MECQ or GCQ

Free Zone

THE prospect of Cebu City being reduced to the level of modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ), or general community quarantine (GCQ) from ECQ is as gloomy as the dark clouds. As of last count, Cebu City has 1,896 Covid-19 confirmed cases with 23 deaths. With this number, I seriously doubt if non-essential establishments would dare reopen even if allowed.

Mandaue City only has 229 Covid-19 cases and four reported deaths. Under this situation, with due respect to Mandaue City Mayor Jonas C. Cortes and the city officials, I think the city could now lower its status from ECQ to MECQ like Talisay City, or general community quarantine (GCQ) without waiting for the May 31 deadline.

Mayor Cortes and Cebu Governor Gwen Garcia issued separate statements supporting and adopting Resolution 38 of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Disease (IATF-EID) that was passed on May 22 that amended most of the provisions of its previous resolutions. Of course!

In fact, Mandaue City had gathered more than the required target recipients for the mass rapid anti-bodies based testing than the cities of Cebu, Lapu-Lapu and Talisay. The Department of Health (DOH) Region 7 and the "Project Balik Buhay" of the Office of the Presidential Assistant (OPAV) initiated the mass rapid anti-bodies testing.

But if Mandaue City would become MECQ or GCQ, like Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu City would appear isolated from the three Metro Cities. But this is a reality that Cebu City officials and the residents should accept with a smile. Neither this is the time for the blame game. The city officials and everyone should work together to obey and observe the health protocols for us to get out of this deadly mess.

Prolonging the ECQ is certainly not good for the city's economy and the wellbeing of everyone. The Cebu City Government may have funds to fight Covid-19. But, what about the food or cash aid for those who lost their work and those without jobs at all? Consider that despite efforts of the national government to provide cash assistance to the needy, there are those who complained they have not received yet.

The Cities of Mandaue, Cebu and Lapu-Lapu have allowed workers to cross borders. But the travel of the workers from their respective home to their work places is not as easy as it used to be. The border checkpoints cause delay because of the long queue of motor vehicles. This is not to mention the number coding for motor vehicles being imposed by the City Government.

Worse, some supermarkets under ECQ have prevented senior citizens, who are still strong and able, from going inside even with the exemptions provided by the IATF Resolution that allows senior citizens to have access to the basic necessities. It's a pity that senior citizens are also made to queue the line.

I have read the several resolutions of the IATF, pardon me if I missed some, but there is not a single provision that amended the provisions of RA 7432, or the Senior Citizens Act of 1991 that granted benefits and special privileges to the elderly. One of the privileges is not to line up. But the management of some supermarkets does not observe RA 7432.

Is the Office of the Senior Citizens Affairs (Osca) aware of this situation? Violation of the rights and privileges of the senior citizens enshrined in RA 7432 is also a violation of their human rights. Could the Commission on Rights investigate the plight of senior citizens during this pandemic?


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