AS I wrote this piece, there is no word yet from Malacañang on the quarantine status of the various local government units (LGUs) all over the country effective today and for the next 15 days as the status imposed from June 16 to June 30 ended yesterday. President Rodrigo Duterte had yet to announce it either late at night or today. Cebu City was the only city under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) due to the rising cases of coronavirus disease (Covid-19). (Note: This column might be superseded by the President’s pronouncement).
With the announcement of National Task Force Against Covid-19 chief implementer Carlito Galvez that “residents of Cebu City would be wise to brace for an extension of the ECQ,” my gut feels an extension. First, the cases are doubling daily even if we were on ECQ from general community quarantine (GCQ) from June 15 to 30, when stringent restrictions were imposed.
Even during the takeover of Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu as Covid-19 response team chief a week ago, positive cases tremendously increased daily. Our experts could not conclude yet if the cases have been reduced since then. It needs more days to make a conclusion.
Second, why did City Hall print another set of QR coded passes after the first sets were suspended upon Cimatu’s takeover? Under GCQ status, there is no need for Q passes as people, even non-authorized persons outside of residents (Apor) and those doing non-essentials, were allowed to go out and report for work as shopping malls and commercial establishments were open.
Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella said he does not mind if the city will remain on ECQ as long as this can stop the virus spread. “The important thing is we can continue to implement the protocol and see to it that we will be able to stop the spread because the virus is still here,” Labella told SunStar Cebu. So he had changed his stand, prioritizing now public health than the city’s economy? When we were placed under ECQ, he filed an appeal to the IATF for a GCQ status so that the city’s economy will also re-open. However, his appeal was denied.
But if health officials have their way, they want to downgrade the status to GCQ. Department of Health 7 designated spokesperson Dr. Mary Jean Loreche said, “Placing the whole city on lockdown is not the solution.” Reports said the DOH recommended to the IATF to downgrade the city’s status to GCQ.
I will suggest to DOH 7 officials to shut up and focus on the main functions. They could not even reconcile the figures on positive cases and immediately release the results of the tests.
The DOH has been blamed for the “super delay” in the release of reports as it miserably failed to perform its task. It gave so many alibis. Regional Director Jaime Bernadas should eat his words when he insisted that our hospitals were not overwhelmed by Covid patients. But look what’s happening now? All the hospitals are full and non-Covid related patients are having a hard time getting admission.
Some Cebuanos “violently reacted” when Duterte accused us of being “gahi’g ulo” (hardheaded), which he said caused the rapid increase of Covid-19 cases. We cried “foul and unfair” over the President’s statement. But why should we complain when it is true? Look what happened to that Alumnus, Basak San Nicolas fiesta procession and mini-Sinulog and the motocross last Sunday in Consolacion. Those events where people gathered were clear violations of the social distancing protocol. Dili ba to binuhatan og mga gahig ulo? (Weren’t those acts of hardheaded people?)
Now that Covid-19 cases have increased, we blame our local leaders, especially the mayor for his “weak leadership.” But did we bother to examine ourselves what are our contributions to stop the spread of this dreaded disease? Huna-hunaa kuno ninyo. (Think about it.)