Briones: Focusing on the problem

Publio J. Briones III

THE Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) should focus on the problem at hand instead of adding more woes to beleaguered barangay officials in Cebu City.

The agency should remember that the enemy is a highly infectious virus that targets the vulnerable.

And who do I mean by the “vulnerable?”

Well, according to the World Health Organization, the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) “is often more severe in people who are older than 60 years or who have health conditions like lung or heart disease, diabetes or conditions that affect their immune system.”

People who belong in this category have been advised to take the right actions and to protect themselves. They are fully aware of the repercussions if they don’t take precautions.

With that said, DILG officials should be assisting and not issuing warnings to barangay officials who fail to implement quarantine protocols.

I mean, barangay officials may have legitimate reasons that are beyond their control to explain why they are unable to fulfill the government mandate.

The common excuse is “they lack the resources to carry these out.”

Maybe the DILG should look into that instead.

Understandably, some of the barangays are cash-strapped three months into the pandemic. Come to think of it, some were never cash-rich to begin with, which would explain why it would look like barangay officials had not been doing their job to try and contain the disease. They just never had the money to do it.

It reminds me of the directive to apprehend people who are not wearing masks outdoors.

Did it ever occur to the DILG or some local government units that people who go about with naked faces do so because they may not have the money to buy masks? That if they do have a few pesos, they’ll rather use these to purchase food or water?

Yes, in some barangays, people have no access to running water. That’s why scenes of crowds lining up around a water tanker with pails or buckets in hand are common. Either that or they buy water from a refilling station.

So forgive them if social distancing is farthest from their minds.

As to some barangay officials’ claims that the City Government does not listen to their ideas, I’ll just have to take that with a grain of salt, especially since one, if not all, of the complainants are affiliated with the opposition party.

In fairness to the mayor, he did urge barangay captains to coordinate with the City early on.

At any rate, it’s very easy to lose track of the real issue when there are so many petty distractions.

If the DILG really wants to help, then do so. Talk to barangay officials. Ask them what they need to combat the problem. Because, at the end of the day, we’re all in this together.