Briones: Double standard

Publio J. Briones III
·2 min read

I’m amazed at how authorities apply a double standard in dealing with violators of the community quarantine protocol in response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.

It seemed like only yesterday that residents of Cebu City were hauled off to the Plaza Independencia because they failed to wear face masks, carry quarantine passes or observe social distancing.

These violators couldn’t leave for 12 hours because they had to sit through seminars, pray the rosary and conduct some drills. And by drills, I guess, the report meant community service like sweeping the plaza clean or picking up garbage along the coastline of the South Road Properties, or something like that.

Those lucky enough to have money when many people were losing jobs because several establishments were shutting down as a result of the world’s longest lockdown could pay their way out.

P500 I think the penalty was.

Mind you, some local legislators wanted to raise the amount to teach violators a lesson or to make them think twice about going out but I don’t think they succeeded. Even if they had, I don’t think the City Government would have implemented it.

I mean, why kick someone when they are already down, right?

Many of the violators then had a valid reason for being outside. They were either trying to buy essential goods like medicines and food or eke a living so they would have enough money to purchase them.

To put it bluntly, many of them were only trying to keep their heads above water at the height of the health crisis.

Of course, the situation has changed somewhat since then, when the city was caught off guard by the resurgence of Covid-19 cases after its enhanced community quarantine status was lifted.

We may be looking at a similar scenario now, especially after the Department of Health (DOH) 7 and the city’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) reported a spike in the number of cases after the holidays, but the difference is this time our authorities appear to be ready to handle the situation since they’ve been expecting it.

In fact, the DOH 7 and the EOC have assured the public that they’re on top of things.

So perhaps it’s this guarantee that has emboldened some members of the public to flock to the Basilica del Sto. Niño for the novena masses in honor of the Child Jesus.

Although mass gathering is still prohibited, one look at scenes outside the Basilica show a different picture. But instead of apprehending violators, authorities direct them to the Plaza Independencia where they can watch the novena mass on a giant screen.