“Death is not extinguishing the light. It is only putting out the lamp because the dawn has come.”
—Indian writer Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941).
I have learned of the death of Cebu City North District Rep. Raul V. Del Mar early last Monday night through his daughter, Rachel “Cutie” Del Mar. I was one of those very few that Cutie informed about the death of her father. Cutie was still on the side of his father’s hospital bed in Manila when she called me up and relayed the sad news. I did not break the story on the radio because of Cutie’s request not to make it public yet. Even until yesterday morning, I did not discuss it in my radio program pending official pronouncement from the family. Other news organizations got the news from other sources.
Raul was a good friend. He was one-of-a-kind and hard-working politician. I wrote about him in my Monday’s column, Nov. 16, as he was scheduled to assume the position as House Deputy Speaker on that day as Congress resumed its session. Aside from bringing in developments, especially infrastructure projects in his district, Raul authored several laws of local and national significance. As Cebu Citizens-Press Council (CCPC) statement said, Del Mar contributed so much to the concerns of Cebu media. He extended medical assistance to members of the media through the Cebu Media Medical Aid Fund (CMMAF), which was initiated by this columnist and former SunStar Cebu editor-in-chief, Atty. Pachico “Cheking” Seares, donated funds for Cebu Media Library, press center, and sponsored franchise bills for various local radio stations. Adios, my friend.
“Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.” This means a situation in which one cannot win. In a specific situation, a person can be blamed or considered wrong no matter what he or she does.’ This idiomatic expression was popularized by former first lady of United States, Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of former US President Franklin Roosevelt (1933-1945). Eleanor was a political figure herself, diplomat, and activist.
“Dammed if he do, damned if he don’t.’ This is how I described the situation of Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella amid the city’s anti-coranavirus response in view of the recent spike of positive cases. Labella is in a win-lose situation. Morag bibingka sa Mandaue nga kayo sa ubos, baga sa taas.
When Covid-19 was on its peak and while some major cities including Cebu City were placed on lockdown, some quarters, especially the local opposition, blamed Labella for the debacle. They called him a weak leader, indecisive, an administration with no exact direction. They compared his leadership to that of his political rival last elections. They said had Tomas Osmeña been the mayor, he could have offered an efficient solution to Covid response.
I beg to disagree with this claim. This is a different ballgame. We cannot see the enemy. As former Regional Trial Court (RTC) Executive Judge Macaundas Hadjirasul puts it: “No one can claim to have been truly prepared for this crisis. Our leaders have to make innumerable decisions daily without sufficient precedents, information, time, manpower, resources, and even mobility. Let’s be less judgmental.”
Covid overseer, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Sec. Roy Cimatu was sent here by President Rodrigo Duterte to help manage the containment of the virus. And we succeeded. There was a drastic reduction of Covid cases in the last few months, which prompted the Inter-agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) to place Cebu City under the modified general community quarantine (MGCQ).
Despite that temporary success, nobody recognized Labella’s efforts. But now that positive cases have risen and the mayor ordered the strict implementation of quarantine rules, he is criticized left and right.
Labella ordered a stricter border control that only authorized persons outside of residence (Apor), workers with certificate of employment and those doing essentials are allowed to go out. He is being criticized for again making the people’s lives miserable like what we experienced during the lockdown. What Labella is doing is another setback to our local economy. They claimed that we are in MGCQ status and the restrictions should be better relaxed.
If you are in the shoes of Labella, what will you do? Will you just allow people to roam around and practice what they have been doing before the Covid-19 pandemic when the virus is very much around? What Labella is doing is protecting public health.