We are learning it the hard way.
Four-month-period is enough to come to a realization that in this fight against Covid-19, it takes only a good dose of discipline, obedience to very basic health protocols to adapt to the new normal and survive.
Duterte succinctly describes what’s wrong with us. While he describes his fellow Cebuanos as “gahi ug ulo” (hard-headed), the truth is we see this incorrigible trait all over.
Take for instance this bunch who dub themselves as PH PRIDE Protesters. They are the types who are impervious to the consequences of their acts.
While the government issues simple directives as wearing masks and social distancing and to stay home if nothing of importance requires one to go out, they gathered themselves in strange defiance.
They were of course removed from the streets and were given a mental counseling after which were released. But before finally disbanding however, they had a photo taken in defiance of social distancing, threatening to file cases against the law enforcers.
Four months has also brought us face to face with reality.
Finance Sec. Carlos “Sonny” Dominguez have told us the brutal truth – that our economy cannot remain in stagnation lest it will lead us to a catastrophe much worse than the pandemic.
As head of Duterte’s economic team to him belongs the task of revving up the engine of the economy. To do that the productivity of the labor force in Metro Manila and CALABARZON must resume citing that the huge percentage of our economy comes from these regions.
Despite the increase of Covid cases what is happening in the ground gives us the confidence that we can slowly push up the economy to a modest performance.
The revival of our economy, which was among the best in Southeast Asia, is achievable but it requires a joint community undertaking. We are seeing the emergence of a New Normal.
The signs are there and I think that Secretary Dominguez have seen them all.
There are provinces and cities where the local government units are able to address the threats of contamination. There are barangays in the crowded communities in Metro Manila where Covid cases have declined if not altogether disappeared. There were recurring cases but systematic contact tracing and testing were immediately done and if lockdowns become necessary then it is strictly enforced.
And of course, the experience we had in Cebu City must never be repeated.
The local city officials insisted on being placed under General Community Quarantine despite the inclination of the Inter-Agency Task Force to keep them under “Enhanced” status.
Cebu City in less than 15 days, became the epicenter of Covid-19 cases in the country.
Learnings start with the basic barangay units enforcing social distancing, wearing of masks and proper hygiene (washing of hands and disinfection with alcohol), enforcement of curfews when needed.
They too must have the lead role in contact tracing.
On the overall the city and provincial governments through their respective Regional Inter-Agency Task Force should insure that the hospital front-liners are provided with adequate supply Personal Protective Equipment and for the hospitals to have sufficient isolation and testing facilities.
I must stress here that the first line of defense our doctors, nurses and other health workers and therefore they should be provided with enough support. This is the simple role that the Department of Health can do now so hopefully Sec. Francisco Duque can perform this task.
A revitalized economy means jobs and resuscitation of small and medium size industries. The transport sector is back on the road but gone are the days of jam packed jeepneys and buses. Airlines are flying their routes. Restaurants and parlors will be opened but with limitations. Factories will start to churn more goods and items in grocery shelves.
So we want to be like Vietnam, Thailand, Korea or China? Then let us observe discipline and obedience to simple rules and protocols.
Forget the show-off PH Pride, they are contemptuous imitation of America’s suicidal masses which are in denial of the fact that daily at least 50,000 get infected and there seems to be no prospects that the scourge will stop.
As President Duterte puts it, “hinay hinay lang!”
Locally stranded individuals
We see them sleeping on pavements underneath canopies of skyways and roof eaves near Ninoy Aquino International Airport. They have been there for days, weeks in fact, and we have even a name for them: “Locally Stranded Individuals” or LSIs.
They were there not because of their choice for in fact they have none.
Many of them are fortune seekers, lured by the glitters and glam of Metro Manila, the diabolic luster in an inferno which they thought reflects the job opportunities deprived of them in the provinces or where labor or servitude get better pay.
When the Covid-19 struck they stuck it out until the order of lockdown caught up with them. They lived a miserable life and desperation wanted to go home.
The LSIs have each a story of their travail. The excruciating faces of despair, hunger, and need had become the centerpiece of media reports. We saw them daily being interviewed on nationwide TV. No social distancing and improper use of masks.
From where I watched quarantined at my house in Davao City, I kept asking myself how can the Department of Health missed this horror?
To their credit, the Air Force provided them space somewhere in Villamor Airbase. In the meantime, I wonder whether they were or are being subjected to the necessary tests.
Senator Bong Go, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, had to issue an appeal for the LSIs to be accorded the necessary health regimen and to ensure that the basic health and sanitation protocols are provided them.
Rightly so. These people are eager to go home but having been appraised of a number of LSIs who were ferried home earlier but were later found to be Covid-positive, the good Senator issued a caution and piece of that for the health and security of those scheduled to leave for their respective destinations and their families each has to go through the procedures.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque has to open his eyes even if he remains deaf to the din of the calls for him to resign and take over from where the Air Force personnel started.
President Duterte and his economic team have commenced on a delicate strategy to rev up the economy and balance this with health concerns to keep our nation alive.
If Duque is not going to leave on his own, then he should wake up from a state of lethargy and take a good grip on the reins of the Health Department. My gosh!
Wasn’t he jarred when the President dispatched Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu to look after the health problems in Cebu City?
Given a slap on his face, less mortals usually just fade away. (ia/SPH)