Briones: A common goal

Publio J. Briones III
·3 min read

CEBU CITY Mayor Edgardo Labella doesn’t have to be so touchy.

Everybody knows he has final say when it comes to matters concerning the city, especially while it has been placed on community quarantine to contain the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

After all, he has the people’s mandate. They elected him over his predecessor Tomas Osmeña in the last election.

He might not be as visible as other officials but, judging by his recent statement, he has been hard at work behind the scenes.

Trust me, I don’t envy Labella in his position or any other local chief executives for the matter.

They’re all caught between a rock and a hard place.

On one hand, they have to think about the safety of their constituents. The disease, although not as fatal as others initially thought, is highly infectious and has the potential to overwhelm the country’s health care system if left unchecked. Hence the lockdowns.

On the other hand, the restriction on movements these past eight months has resulted in the closure of many establishments, which left many people without a job. The City Government just doesn’t have the money to provide for their basic needs.

The mayor has been urging the public not to be complacent since the city became the poster boy for its successful turnaround in Covid-19 management.

From being the epicenter of the disease in the country in June, it only logged four cases on Nov. 6. But then in less than a week, that number rose to 28 cases.

This prompted City Councilor Joel Garganera, the deputy chief implementer of the city’s Emergency Operations Center, to warn that the city might be placed on enhanced community quarantine before the end of the month if cases continue to go up.

And that’s when all hell broke loose. Sort of.

The president of the Filipino-Cebuano Business Club released a statement of appeal addressed to Garganera.

“I would like to express our deep concern on the impending lockdown. Our second and third quarter Gross Domestic Product showed a negative drop (total-28) and with the prolonged economic recession, this will lead to economic depression which is a more dangerous and scary situation that we may face ahead,” said Rey Calooy, who added that any decision on a lockdown must be based on evidence and science.

In fairness to the city councilor, I don’t think he was making a unilateral decision because he knows that the decision was not his to make, as the mayor reminded him the very next day.

Garganera was reminding the public of what would happen if they violated quarantine protocol.

He knows all too well that a second wave can strike anytime and anyplace like what has happened in some countries in Europe right now.

At any rate, his warning has galvanized residents, establishment owners and authorities into action.

On Friday night alone, Nov. 13, 2020, more than 100 quarantine violators were arrested by police during the launching of Oplan Bulabog.

So it turned out that Garganera’s ploy worked.