SPEECHES are easy to write. Tuck in all the lofty adjectives mid-sentences, and you’ll have one that stirs a crowd. So in spiels reporting the state of cities or nation, it’s the “how” questions that give beautiful prose the cold eye.
So much so that when Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella says that the City has “put in place comprehensive and robust efforts for relief, recovery and response to pandemic,” one needs to be ready to deploy the “how” issues of the day.
The city mayor on Wednesday, July 22, 2020, delivered his second State of the City Address (Soca) online. In this nutcase of a period in our health crisis, the public needs the reassuring word of leaders that government resources are efficiently dedicated to bring its lives back to, for the lack of a better word, normalcy.
Labella said he would focus the City’s efforts on job generation, promoting entrepreneurship, supporting education, improving the residents’ health and upgrading sanitation systems.
The mayor said the City will work on a stimulus package to help small businesses, acknowledging them as the economy’s “backbone.” The City will implement programs to train displaced workers to become entrepreneurs.
During a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) and Covid-19 Cebu overseer environment secretary Roy Cimatu, Felix Taguiam, president of the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry, revealed that the chamber had already received 92 requests for closure. The chamber has 891 members. A sad trend, but Taguiam said they have to respect the business decisions of their owners.
Cebu’s reputation had been badly hurt by the pandemic, and the city badly needs to intensify its efforts to regain public confidence to rouse the economy back to life. Rey Calooy, president of the Filipino-Cebuano Business Club, said, “We should build Cebu’s image again to help increase consumer confidence and business climate.”
Taguiam said the chamber would have to revisit its Cebu Investment Development Concierge Center (CIDCC) to focus on job generation and investments.
The CIDCC, an investment fast lane that was supposed to be launched early this year, will be the business sector’s contribution to resuscitate a gasping economy.
When the hard lockdowns ease up, it won’t certainly be a breezy one to recovery. While there is the urgency to save the businesses, there is on the one hand the required precaution to safeguard public health.
It is important that the City Government orchestrate a comprehensive plan that involves all stakeholders and carry it out with utmost transparency. The least that the public needs is a sweeping assurance that the economy will be revived. They need to be told concrete answers to their “how” questions as a matter of life and livelihood.