CEBU CITY is the only local government placed under enhanced community quarantine or ECQ this month, a point that is subject to various interpretations depending on one’s bias. Political opponents of the administration of Mayor Edgardo Labella are rejoicing because they can again use this to prove the incompetence of the city’s elected leaders. Didn’t former mayor Tomas Osmeña harp on this when he claimed that he handled better the aftermath of the devastating typhoon Ruping when he was city mayor?
Of course, the devastation wrought by a typhoon is different from the problems brought about by a pandemic, so there is no comparison there. Besides, that was decades ago, meaning Osmeña was in his full physical and intellectual powers then, unlike now when he is already old and a cancer survivor. Still no comparison there. I must admit, though that the Labella administration could have done better in preventing the spread in the city of the dreaded coronavirus.
I see this one differently though. Continuing to place the city under ECQ is the correct decision given that the Covid-19 cases in the barangays are continuing to rise. It would be sheer recklessness for the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) not to recognize this and lift the ECQ just to please the city’s constituents or make its leaders look good. The goal is to prevent the spread of the virus, not to prove the competence or incompetence of leaders.
Residents should even welcome the decision to continue imposing strict restrictions in Cebu City given the situation. This is a dangerous enemy we are dealing with and many have succumbed to the illness, including big names like City Councilor Antonio Cuenco. Of course, many have also recovered but without a cure and a vaccine, surviving will always be a hit or miss proposition. There can’t be complacency under such a setup.
As for the leadership in the City, it should not consider this as an insult but as a chance to do better. Being the last LGU to be “ECQ’d” has its advantages, one of which is that it can already learn from the experiences of many other leaders who are successful in their fight against the virus. Like how did Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto do it? Or closer to home, many cramped barangays in Cebu were able to prevent the spread of the virus. How did they do it?
When I was an organizer in my younger years, I held tightly to the admonition to “learn from past mistakes to avoid future ones.” The admonition tells us that leadership is one continuous learning process. There was one guide on organizing that I brought anywhere I went. When problems arose, I would read and read again the contents of the manual, raising my experiences to the conceptual level. Experience, knowledge, experience again, knowledge again and so on and so forth--such is the key in mastering leadership.
The problem is when leaders do not learn and continue doing what has turned out in practice to be ineffective. That’s incompetence.