Briones: Going after the poor

On the go

WHAT a brilliant idea!

Starting today, Aug. 16, 2020, quarantine violators in Cebu City may be charged in court and also detained in the police station.

The operative word here is “may” since the court still has to approve both moves by the City Government to crack down on “hard-headed” citizens.

Both penalties are contained in City Ordinance 2566, “An Ordinance Penalizing any Violation in Relation to the Implementation of General/Enhanced Community Quarantine in Cebu City during Public Health Crisis,” which also fines first-time offenders P1,500; second-time offenders, P3,000; and third-time offenders, P5,000.

However, one of its authors, City Councilor Dave Tumulak, said he will file an amendment to scrap these draconian measures and replace these with an administrative fine of just P500.

The public has Mayor Edgardo Labella to thank for Tumulak’s change of heart. The mayor found the penalties too harsh and requested a more humane response to address the problem.

Because, let’s face it, the ordinance is anti-poor no matter how you look at it.

Now why do I say this? Well, just look at the photos of violators doing community service at the Plaza Independencia or at the South Road Properties, or attending seminars on pandemic guidelines and whatnot. They all look like they belong to the hoi polloi.

There’s no need to be shocked. I’m just pointing out the obvious.

You can’t find the wealthy among them since they can afford not to leave their homes unless absolutely necessary. And why would they? They have air-conditioning. They have the internet. Their larder is fully stocked. If they’re craving for something to eat, they can always have it delivered.

So why go out? For starters, it’s either too hot or it’s raining. I mean, who wants to sweat or get wet, right?

It’s not like they live in tiny spaces with several other people or have to go to the grocery or market more than once a week because they don’t have a refrigerator or, if they do, it can only fit so much meat and other perishable goods. They’re not worried about not having enough money to pay the bills or purchase the “essentials.”

I’m not saying quarantine violators should get off the hook. But maybe the City Government should ask itself why these people are risking their lives in the middle of a pandemic.

It’s a good thing Cebu City has a mayor who understands the plight of the majority. And I’m not just saying that because I have a favor to ask.

It’s not like I’m asking Labella to open the oval at the Cebu City Sports Center to walking and jogging, forms of exercise allowed in areas under general community quarantine. Because I’m not. But if the mayor reads this and reconsiders, then he truly lives up to his nickname of “Mr. Nice Guy.”


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