Nalzaro: Gwen’s way


WHAT do countries with the best Covid-19 response have in common? Women leaders. Are female leaders more successful at managing the crisis?

Looking for true leadership in crisis? From Iceland to Taiwn and from Germany to New Zealand, women are stepping up to show the world how to manage a messy patch for humanity. Add in Finland, Iceland and Demark, and this pandemic reveals women having what it takes when the heat rises. Many will say these are small countries or islands or other exceptions. But Germany is large and leading in the number of cases and the UK is an island with very different outcomes. These leaders are showing us an attractive way of wielding power. What are they teaching us?

Here’s the list of some countries with women leaders on top of the Covid-19 pandemic. Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany; Katrin Jakobsdottir of Iceland; Mette Frederiksen, Prime Minister of Denmark; Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand; Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan and Norway Prime Minister Erma Solberg. (source: Article of Avivah Wittenberg-Cox of Forbes).

And we will add to the list Cebu Gov. Gwen Garcia. Though she is not a world leader, she is on top of the Covid crisis. How is Gwen faring in the handling of the pandemic? Well, as an outsider looking in, she fared well. I can just imagine how disorganized and topsy-turvy the Capitol would have been if former Gov. Hilario Davide III were still governor today. Nagkawakat og nagkamuritsing lang siguro.

Gwen is very decisive. While other local chief executives were still scrambling and scratching their heads on what to do, Gwen acted with dispatch. Her decisions were not based on what was popular, but on public welfare. During the enhanced community quarantine, she decisively ordered the closing of borders between Cebu City and the province, making the lives of travellers miserable. It was a very unpopular move.

She handled well the Capitol’s financial assistance for the various local government units. Even to her political opponents, she was very generous. She extended financial assistance to areas controlled by her political opponents. Even though we are in an emergency situation and the Commission on Audit (COA) rules especially on bidding procedures are set aside, but Gwen was very transparent. Not much complaints of politicking and favoritism in giving relief goods to the various LGUs.

She was firm in the transition from ECQ to GCQ, a struggle between protecting public health and the economy during the lockdown. In an interview with this columnist over DYSS radio weeks ago, she said, “We will not be held ‘hostage’ by this pandemic forever. We have to move on. We cannot support our people forever. Our resources are draining and we cannot just pour everything to the crisis. We have other concerns. We have to get back our economy.” That’s why she appealed to the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infection Disease (IATF) to place Cebu province under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) so that we will be back to a semi-normal situation with a more relaxed environment and freed from restrictions.

“Maybe it is time for us to have a proper sense how we should view this challenge. Yes, it is a health challenge. It is a crisis. But on the other hand, shall we view it as a crisis that is insurmountable or we shall view it as a challenge that we can deal with reasonably, logically and rationally given the data now available to us which we did not know previously,” Gwen said.


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