Perfect score
Mary Ruth R. Malinao (The Freeman) - October 23, 2020 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines —  Secretary Roy Cimatu, the designated overseer of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) in Cebu, has given Cebu City the highest rating of 10 for its response to COVID-19, stating it has been a “success.”

“Ten, because there is no substitute for success. Walang semi-success. It’s either failed ka or success ka. So, I’ll rate 10,” said Cimatu in a press conference yesterday.

Last August, the city unlocked a key milestone in its fight against the coronavirus after having “flattened the curve” of new infections following sustained low indicators.

The development marked a major achievement for the city that was dubbed as the “epicenter of COVID-19” in the country back in June.

“From epicenter of COVID four months ago, Cebu City now is the epicenter of good method or mode of bringing down the COVID,” said Cimatu.

Two months later, the city, even under relaxed modified general community quarantine (MGCQ), continues to implement restrictions such as the use of quarantine passes and the presence of checkpoints to limit the movement of people to sustain the flattening of the curve.

Cimatu attributed the success of the city to the leadership of Mayor Edgardo Labella with Councilor Joel Garganera of the Emergency Operations Center (EOC), Philippine National Police, doctors, contact tracers, and all those who have exerted efforts to obtain the achievement.

“I am very proud of this team… I’m very proud because sila ang nagbigay talaga ng magandang resulta sa effort natin against COVID,” said Cimatu.

“I came here to Cebu City in compliance with the directive of the president last June. This is really our fourth month dito and I would say that in the first two months that I was here, I used to be here once a week, stay here for three days for continuous two months. Last month and this month, I come here once a month nalang because nakikita ko na talaga ang great improvement of what we have done here in Cebu City,” he said.

Last June, President Rodrigo Duterte sent Cimatu, the current environment secretary and a former armed forces chief, to Cebu to help in addressing the rising COVID-19 cases.

TARGET: Zero Cases

EOC data show that on Wednesday, October 21, 2020, there were seven new cases recorded in the city, which brought the total cases to 10,188 with the active cases down to 196.

The total recoveries were at 9,313 after 11 additional recoveries were recorded.

The total deaths stood at 677 as no new death was recorded.

Cimatu said the objective now is to bring down the active cases to zero.

“Hindi lang tayo mag-complacent. We will not lower our guards to achieve that elusive goal of having zero. I challenged and it was accepted actually by Councilor Garganera about a possible zero. Because I was looking at the recovery versus the new cases. If the recovery is more than the new cases, then it is decreasing already,” said Cimatu.

“It can be done. I don’t really foresee a problem in our task, especially the organization here… sanay na sila sa kanilang every day na ginagawa since day one, nung nag-umpisa tayo sa effort na ito,” he added.

Cimatu said along with the leadership and teamwork, a big factor for the city’s flattening of the curve is also the acceptance of the people that there is a problem which is the virus.

The barangay captains also did their job and accepted his challenge to be the one responsible for their respective barangays, he said.

“When I gave the challenge to the barangay captains, nag-react sila. Sabi ko sa kanila, this pandemic comes only once in our lifetime, so if you are elected as a barangay captain, then this is your chance to show your leadership because this will not come again in our lifetime. I challenged them, ‘can you do this job?’. Sabay-sabay naman sila ‘yes’,” said Cimatu.


Labella, for his part, thanked Cimatu for his guidance and inspiration.

“On behalf of the Cebu City government, I just would like to make a manifestation with the fact that without your guidance, without your inspiration, all of us here would not have achieved this success that we are now savoring,” said the mayor.

The mayor reminded the residents to remain vigilant and to never be complacent as the virus is still very much around.

Like Cimatu, Sec. Carltio Galvez, IATF chief implementer, also gave due credit to the PNP and the Armed Forces of the Philippines for a job “well done”.

During the 6th National Advisory Council Summit at the PNP Headquarters in Camp Crame in Quezon City, Galvez said that one of the problems that affected the rising cases of COVID-19 in the city was politics.

“Eighty (80) barangay ng Cebu (City),  tatlong hati yan; 30 kay Mayor (Edgardo Labella), 25 kay Rama (Vice Mayor Rama) and 25 doon sa dating mayor Osmena (Tomas). Nung nakita nating hindi na unified ang mga barangays talagang nagbabanggaan,” said Galvez.

There was defiance, he added, in some barangays as to who they listened to.

“But when (PRO-7 chief) Gen. Ferro stepped in, and Centcom, and Gen. Cimatu went to the barangays, they were able to harness the unity in efforts, unity of command under Mayor Labella,” said Galvez.

“Community became vulnerable, but with effective law enforcement and communication, it is now reaping good results,” he added.

Galvez said President Duterte is happy with the development in Cebu.

“Kung maalala ninyo, ang Cebu laging pinagagalitan ng ating mahal na Presidente dahil sa napakatigas ang ulo. Sabi nga niya, ‘gahi ulo,’ pero nakita na natin ngayon, alam niyo tuwang-tuwa si Presidente dahil ang mga tao nakinig po sa paglalambing ng ating Presidente,” he said. — Decemay P. Padilla, Caecent No-ot Magsumbol JMD

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