Domondon: Understanding the lay of the land

MORE or less six hours before I began to write this piece, I was in attendance as a member of the secretariat for, first, the meeting of the City Mayor with the 128 villages in the city represented by their Punong Barangays, and second, the City Anti-Drug Abuse Council (Cadac) meeting for the last part of the year, chaired and presided by the mayor himself.

It was a bit tiring handling two meetings in a day one coming right after the other. But even though I was not able to fully listen in on the updates and information being relayed by Mayor Benjamin Magalong to the village heads and then later the members of the Cadac, I felt a serious and sobering tone, from the bits and snatches of data I heard, in the way Mayor Benjie was explaining the Covid-19 situation in the city. For starters, the mayor did not mince words when he warned the Punong Barangays that an impending surge in Covid cases is anticipated this December due in part to the yuletide season and its accompanying festivities that usually involve large social gatherings, as well as the expected cold weather this time of year which, as medical experts have already found out, is a comfortable environment for the virus. The other piece of warning that the mayor told the body is the unexpectedness of the surge, which they thought was due in about two weeks but has already begun in just one week.

In the matter of vaccines being made available to the public and the country, the mayor said that the government does not see everybody being vaccinated immediately but expects more than half of the population being inoculated, if and when the said vaccines arrive in the country, possibly during the second quarter of next year. He added that the target of the government is more or less 80 percent of the population being vaccinated in order to achieve the so-called herd immunity.

The mayor then announced that as a means to continually monitor the spread of the virus in the community another round of testing is being done for three days, starting Wednesday until Friday this week, with the 5,000 RT-PCR test kits donated to the city. But the Mayor added that he divided the donated test kits and has shared them with our neighboring municipalities such as La Trinidad and so about 2,500 test kits remain for the Baguio folk.

The Covid-19 updates given by the mayor at the meeting is on top of the daily Covid situation in the city presented by Dra. Weng Galpo of our City Health Services Office and one of the leaders of the Baguio City Inter-Agency Task Force on Covid-19.

What this all means, however, and without putting the seriousness of the situation aside, is that the city despite obviously having meager resources at its disposal, compared with other metropolitan cities with huge budgets (e.g. Quezon City or Makati), is capably handling the unprecedented crisis and situation that has affected the city and much of the world. In other words, thanks to the leadership of not only the Mayor but also his team of managers at city hall and our very able barangay officials, health workers and volunteers, the City of Baguio can lay claim to the fact that it is on top of the situation, however precarious it might seem. And more to the point it is the majority of the people of Baguio who, after realizing that surviving the pandemic needs the collaborative effort and full participation of everyone, has more or less complied dutifully with the various health protocols and prevention measures established by the city government.

Nevertheless, during the meeting with the Punong Barangays the mayor once more called on them to remain vigilant and alert within their respective jurisdictions to avoid and lessen virus transmission incidents involving their constituents. By engaging with them the Mayor was simply encouraging the barangay leaders to better understand the gravity of the situation and how best to handle it given the circumstances. As additional support to the effort, the mayor even authorized the barangay officials to immediately close restobars, eateries or diners within their territorial jurisdiction found to be violating health protocols after duly informing concerned agencies. This is further empowerment to our barangay officials who are at the forefront and the grassroots level in the fight against the virus.

By understanding the lay of the land the city is hopefully in a better position to glimpse the light at the end of the tunnel and better prepared for what is anticipated to be the new normal in the future.


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