It’s going to be a merry MGCQ Christmas

SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Valeriano Avila - The Freeman

As The FREEMAN headline yesterday pointed out, Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella seems to agree with the Department of Health (DOH) that Cebu City remain under a Modified General Community Quarantine (MGCQ) until December. So it will surely be an MGCQ Christmas that we would be celebrating this year. What can we do when there are two things that we need to make things better? The first is to make sure that the vaccines against the coronavirus are ready and accepted worldwide, and second, that the COVID-19 pandemic is practically over. Without these two it’s an MGCQ Christmas for us.

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Yesterday, The FREEMAN came up with an editorial entitled “Heavy Rains, hard lessons”. Let me reprint it here in part, “Heavy rains caused flooding in many areas of Metro Cebu the other day. Streets became rivers and some neighborhoods literally turned into lakes. Photos and videos showed what happened in places like General Maxilom Avenue where vehicles were literally swept away by high waters. Homeowners in different barangays also had to deal with water entering their homes.

“This time it was not just the ankle-deep water they have become used to, but waist-deep and even shoulder-deep water in some areas.

“The floods the other day were no doubt caused in part by the heavy rains brought about by tropical depression Ofel. However, we can also attribute the floods to another thing; trash in our drainage systems.

“Cebu City residents have long blamed flooding on an ineffective drainage system. However, the cause of flooding has long ceased to be just an issue with the drainage system, it’s more of what goes into the drainage system and stops it from functioning as it should. That’s right, trash.”

What can I say? This editorial tells the truth!

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Speaking of Christmas time, we cannot reject the law on 13th month pay for our workers. However, I would like to know from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) what happens to the months when all businesses had to shut down because the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) asked all the local government units to supervise a strict lockdown on all businesses? This mean that many of our workers could not even go to work as their workplace was closed? Most businesses that opened in those months were on a “No-work/No-pay” scheme. So what happens here will the DOLE force these companies to pay 13th month pay for workers who didn’t go to work? I think that DOLE in Region 7 should clearly give us information on these situations.

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Meanwhile, the Department of Tourism (DOT) last Tuesday released the health and safety rules for recreational diving as the country reopens sports tourism activities due to the easement of quarantine restrictions.

The DOT’s attached agency, the Philippine Commission on Sports Scuba Diving, came up with the guidelines and was later signed by Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo Puyat after the IATF resolution that included diving as an individual non-contact sport allowed in areas under general community quarantine.

The PCSSD Memorandum Circular No. 2020-001 or the Health and Safety Guidelines Governing the Operations of Dive Establishments in the New Normal covered instructions and regulations for the dive operations under the new normal; employee management, reservation, and booking; check-in, reception, and general guest handling; facility-related policies; diver-specific policies; boat diving; dive center/shop operations; group dive trips; conduct of dive courses and/or trainings; and emergency response and medical clearances. Indeed we know too well that sport diving means that tourists do not have to bring their diving equipment to go diving in many areas in Cebu as they can just rent these equipment.

Among the new rules include bringing of their own scuba gear and equipment box. The guidelines also require divers to use hand disinfectants and hand washing throughout the day, practice physical distancing, and wear the protective face masks when not on an actual dive. Under the PCSSD memorandum, the dive establishments are also mandated to provide a defog solution consisting of soap or shampoo for guests to use on their dive masks. Spitting on the mask or the use of saliva as a defogger is prohibited.

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