Let us get our act together
AS A MATTER OF FACT - Sara Soliven De Guzman (The Philippine Star) - May 18, 2020 - 12:00am

According to the Inter-agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease Resolution No. 37, Cebu and Mandaue Cities will be under Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) while the NCR, Bataan, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Zambales, Angeles City and Laguna will be under the Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ) until the end of the month. After this chaotic MECQ weekend in the malls and roadways, I am sure we will go back to the ECQ mode.

What we witnessed last weekend is the making of what they call a ‘Second Wave’. After a deep trough, a second wave will hit us if we do not do the right interventions. Weren’t the establishments Covid-ready before allowing the flock to enter their premises? Why weren’t they strict in implementing Covid-19 control measures such as physical distancing? Shouldn’t each establishment assign Covid-19 protocol officers to monitor the situation on ground level? Where are the on-the-spot temperature checkers and the isolation areas in case one falls ill with a fever?

To get back to ‘normalcy’, we must work toward it. Sudden actions without proper planning and careful understanding of the enemy at hand (the virus), will kill us with a second wave. Yes, we have seen the government burn the midnight oil thinking of the economy and mapping out the future but what are they not doing?

Let me tell you. If you go around the squatter areas (or the dense urban settlements), you will see the crowd all over the place as if it is just a normal day. Then if you look around, you will notice very dirty environments where informal stalls are set up contradicting all the health and safety measures our government requires. Children, teenagers, and adults seem not to mind social cues related to the Covid-19 crisis. Life goes on without social distancing. Everyone is out in the streets talking, laughing, eating, playing without facial masks. The barangay officers manning the area allow such conditions. They are helpless because they know that in such areas, social distancing is impossible. So, I ask, why is congress or the senate not even talking about this. Lately, they have been so preoccupied with the ABS-CBN franchise ignoring the alarming threats in the society.

Yes, there may not be any Covid-19 cases in SUCH densely populated areas now but once an infected person comes around, boom. That’s it! Just like the prison cells that are supposed to be isolated. How did they suddenly get several Covid-19 cases? Why could not the jail system protect the inmates. How did the virus get there? Clearly, this is caused by the lack of protocols and strict implementation of the rules.

When city mayors thru their barangay officers distribute money from DSWD or food packs, why is there always a mob? Aren’t they guided by the golden rule of social distancing?  Why can’t they create measures to control the crowd? Again, where is the Covid protocol officer in charge? Who is on the look out for a possible siege to stop the enemy (the Covid virus)?

I would think that our government officials by this time have already learned and continue to learn the nature of the enemy. But I guess I am wrong. At some point, I continue to believe that they are playing around and indirectly campaiging for the next elections. If they carefully plan out their actions instead of being reckless, then, we will move forward in battle.

What saddens me is what we see and hear in the news. As we patiently stay home and try our best to follow every protocol required by government, we see police officers, the very people who should implement the law abusing it. Take the case of Ronald Campo of General Trias, Cavite who was alledgely maltreated by police officers who continue to deny the abuse. Many such cases pop up in social media showing us how police forces enforce the law unmindful of their callousness. What about the infamous birthday party of NCRPO Chief Debold Sinas? What lackadaisical measures are these on behalf of our national police? Then we have their chief covering up for the mess. But later retracting because he had to face the music. Just like the AFP chief who carelessly recommended a non-FDA approve Covid-19 drug to his friends. Sanamagan!

To top it off, we have the National Telecommunication Communications (or the NTC) cutting off one of our country’s sources of news during the pandemic. Why didn’t the President use his emergency powers to do anything? Why did he not even bother to intervene? Why did he allow this to happen? Many people in other islands rely on this channel as their only source of news. Why does government address such problems this way at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic? There is something very wrong. We need to start getting our act together.

While countries in Asia are moving forward, we are moving backwards. Let us not fool ourselves. Instead of giving our amelioration packages why not give a portion to contact tracing and Covid-19 testing. And by the way, why aren’t any barangay officials who use the padrino system in distributing the amelioration packages arrested? Many have already abused the system in giving out to ‘chosen’ constituents. They prioritize the people who belong to their campaign parties. Susmariosep!

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History has taught us that an influenza outbreak lasts an average of two years. When the coast seems clear and calm, we tend to go out even when the enemy is still around. Then as we try to simulate a normal day amidst abnormal circumstances, the enemy suddenly attacks the crowd and a second wave occurs. Premature relaxation is dangerous. Every family, every office, every institution, every factory must come up with carefully planned interventions and strict guidelines before allowing anyone out even when the MECQ or the GCQ is lifted.

Do we lack the will and the wisdom to plan out a Covid-19 free environment? What is congress, senate and government officials working on right now? Do they lack the discernment to create or strenghten laws of the land that will protect and improve the conditions in the country heading towards the ‘new normal’?

We have not won the battle yet. The enemy is still lurking around us. Until we get a vaccine and a cure, Covid-19 is still an enemy to reckon with. The fight is not over.

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