"HORA-HORADA." With a silent h, this phrase means in Ilonggo "dali-dali," or "rush-rush" in English--the way the IATF is governing the pandemic in Bacolod. For the second time, without much of a mass information education campaign (IEC), we Bacolodnons are once again caught in a quandary, for some virtual panic as to how to respond to the news about the "lockdown" until September 30. For stressed-out downtown businessmen, this means virtually zero income for nearly four weeks. The situation is so bad that we received a "stress call" from our downtown tenant pleading for a reduction of his rental to only 70 percent of the lease contract.

On our streets, jeepney drivers are wailing no end to their back on the forced stop of public transportation. In fact, for many Bacolodnons and Negrenses deriving their income from the operation of the many businesses located at the Capital, the MECQ announced by Duterte himself is a real burden added to their immiserated households. How much more can the jobless, the urban poor and the thousands of squatters take?

The call for MECQ springs out of a recognized dire need for quarantine facilities for Covid-19 positive patients, and the thousands of OFWs and locally stranded individuals (LSIs) from the National Capital Region. For a first-class chartered city, one that took pride in its claim for "most livable city" in the country, possessing a comparatively high budget than Dumaguete, proactive measures to construct quarantine facilities and accommodations for Covid-19-positive patients should have been undertaken early on. Take Dumaguete City, with a smaller internal revenue allotment and budget, a new quarantine facility is near completion. This comment does not mean that the mayor and his IATF has been inutile in their response. What I do mean is this, because Bacolod lacks a comprehensive, holistic, pandemic response plan, we are today in a state of near stasis, neither here nor there as far as the pandemic goes.

Truth is, Covid-19 is here to stay, like all the other viruses that sprung in our environment and raised havoc, and eventually settled down when public health measures were laid in place. I am not discounting the very real threat to our health security of Covid-19. But without a well-planned multi-level, multi-channel and multi-pronged pandemic plan, Bacolodnons will continue to be subject to knee-jerk, reactionary response to the evolving Covid-19 pandemic. If we heed prophetic messages and warnings, from 2021 onwards, there will be more pandemics to come. So what then?

What radical steps can the mayor take with his compliant IATF? Mayor Bing wails about "no more funds available" to take responsive and preventive measures. Well, I join the growing throng of voters calling for the reallocation of the 150-million-peso fund for the auditorium. Even though the allocated fund has been committed, advanced to sectoral, vested interest groups, the fact that the pandemic has caused mass gatherings to be a "thing of the past," the mayor should abort the project. We have crossed a new era and the times we are facing demand new ways of planning and development. With the majority of the Bacolodnons facing joblessness and virtual hunger in the near future, if present trends continue, there is no justification at all for the auditorium cum museum. For Mayor Bing to insist on its construction, it will be like the Roman emperor Caligula building monuments to himself amid scarcity and impoverishment of the Roman citizenry in his time. By abandoning what is hailed as a milestone achievement in his administration, Mayor Bing will dispel many "huring-hurings," street talks about his insensitivity amidst the pandemic. It will be a redeeming act for him, a fitting end before he passes on the mantel to his successor. I call upon Mayor Bing and his cohorts to hear the growing loud cry of the Bacolodnons, please take heed, act now.