CEBU City's present population is 980,070, which is miniscule compared to Manila or Metro Manila's 12 million. Cebu Province has 2.93 million, (Philippine Statistics Authority). Consider that we're still under quarantine status, whatever is the adjective. But on Monday, August 3, there was an unexpected massive movement of people and vehicles from the municipalities or cities to Metro Cebu after Cebu City was downgraded to general community quarantine (GCQ) on August 1.
On Monday morning, on my way to the north on a professional appointment, I was awed by the sight of the long queue of motor vehicles of all types on the highway going to Mandaue City and reaching beyond Consolacion. The long line of vehicles coming from the north of Cebu reminded me of the usual monstrous traffic before the ECQ was clamped down in the country due to Covid-19.
Don't be surprised that on August 1, the day Cebu City's modified ECQ was lifted, the police arrested 542 quarantine violators. These violators thought they can now malinger under GCQ. The latest count of the apprehended quarantine violators since Saturday is 1,122, according to Raquel Bohol-Arce, head of Cebu City's Prevention Restoration Order Beautification Enhancement (Probe).
I'm specifically pointing out this fact on the sudden surge of movement of people and motor vehicles in Cebu, in general, and Metro Cebu, in particular, because yesterday, President Duterte ordered the reversion of Metro Manila and the provinces of Bulacan, Laguna, Cavite and Rizal to modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) because the medical frontliners are tired and sick.
The President's order came on the heels of the Philippine Medical Association's petition due to the overwhelming Covid-19 patients in the country's premier hospitals and the physicians and health workers are exhausted and some were afflicted with the virus. The numbers at the Department of Health (DOH) show that more than 5,000 medical workers have contracted Covid-19, including 500 in the past week and, so far 38 have died. God forbids no more deaths!
The President only imposed MECQ instead of ECQ in Mega Manila because the government, he said, was already "scraping the barrel" for money to help the poor and those who lost their livelihood during the lockdown imposed in March to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
God forbids, but what happened in Metro Manila could happen not only in Metro Cebu city but in the province. The 1,122 apprehended since August 1 for violation of the quarantine is not a good indicator. Quarantine violators could be anywhere. Tricycles were plying the highway in the towns of Compostela and Liloan. Some people were not wearing or putting on their face mask and social distancing was not observed in the pocket markets.
I believe everyone wants to prevent the spike of the Covid-19 cases in Cebu City or Metro Cebu and the Province, so we could proceed to the so-called new normal. But with these misguided souls or in President Duterte's lingo "mga gahi'g ulo," who think they can freely move around under GCQ for no valid reasons then let's pray and hope we won't return to MECQ or ECQ.
We've been repeating this time and again for everyone to cooperate by complying with the quarantine rules and the health protocols that the government required us to observe and practice. If we only impose self-discipline and respect, we don't need the police and the soldiers to enforce the health protocols and quarantine rules. And, by doing so, we will be of great help to the medical frontliners.