Espinoza: Assassins on the rise again?

Free Zone

LAWYER Joey Luis Wee was still fighting for his life in a hospital when I wrote this piece. He was shot by the hooded riding-in-tandem assailants outside his law office in Barangay Kasambagan, Cebu City Monday afternoon. The daring attack on Wee once again shows how precarious the law profession is even in this administration of President Rodrigo Duterte, a lawyer. Does this signal that guns-for-hire are back on business?

The Cebu City Chapter of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) where Atty. Wee is a member immediately issued a statement strongly condemning the broad daylight attack on the lawyer. Rappler News reported that a total of 52 lawyers, including judges and prosecutors, have been killed since July 2016.

I was in the office when I read the post of a friend on Viber. I texted Atty. Ela Pacondat and she confirmed of Wee's shooting. However, early evening yesterday, Wee didn't survive from the gunshot wounds he sustained. He would be the 53rd lawyer victim. The police should leave no stone unturned in investigating this case and bring to the bar of justice the suspects. To the bereaved family of Atty. Wee, our heartfelt condolences!


Cebu City is still in a precarious state from Covid-19 since this deadly faceless enemy is still very much around. Some areas of the city showed indications in the rise in the number of people infected with Covid-19 that Councilor Joel Garganera, the deputy implementer of Cebu City's Emergency Operation Center (EOC) for Covid-19, last week warned of another possible lockdown if the people do not follow and observe the minimum health protocols.

Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella was right in denying the recommendation of the Cebu City Market Operations Division to open the night market next month, which is usually located on the north end side of Colon Street. Agreeably, it's still too risky to allow a night market as social distancing would be big problem. Consider that social distancing is not even observed in public markets during daytime.

Even if the vendors comply with the minimum health protocols, the problem is that there's no easy way for the vendors to know if some of their customers are asymptomatic or not. The city cannot afford another spike in Covid-19 infections and impose lockdowns again even if its granular lockdown because right now under the modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) the city's economy is slowly gearing up.

But Dr. Mary Jean Loreche, spokesperson of the Department of Health-Region 7, has expressed concern of a possible rise in the viral transmission with the increase of the mobility of the people. "For the simple reason that because of the ease of transport, people's movement becomes less hampered, which, in turn increases activities," said Loreche after learning that traditional PUJs would be back on the streets.

To prevent a surge in Covid-19 infection, Loreche recommended that TPUJ drivers should undergo a regular testing for the virus and strictly enforce the health measures for the safety of the riding public. But the problem is enforcement. LTFRB-7 Director Eduardo Montealto Jr. even seeks assistance from the local government units in the enforcement of the health protocols because his office is undermanned.

I've seen buses filled with passengers. While all the passengers wore face mask and shield, some didn't wear their mask properly and the passengers were seated just like in the normal times. But we don't need the cops for us to obey and observe the minimum health protocols because you and I know that what is at stake is our health and lives.


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