Briones: Pandemic priority

Publio J. Briones III

CEBU City has the highest number of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) cases in the country. Every day, more and more people get infected. So you’d think the City Government would devote all its time and effort in trying to address the problem.

And it has, for the most part. But there are other pressing matters the City needs to attend to.

And no, I’m not talking about the group of people who have made the back of the Cebu Normal University or the front of the City Central School or the sidewalk across the University of San Carlos their home.

These people – young, old and the in-between -- don’t wear masks. They don’t observe social distancing. Never mind their hygiene. They’re just trying to survive. Virus or no virus.

But hey, the City is not going to look into their plight since no one has made a ruckus over it. Maybe they should get someone like City Councilor Joy Young to take up the cudgels for them.

I mean, look, because of the guy’s ardor, Mayor Edgardo Labella has been forced to order an investigation on the 17,000 dressed chickens donated by a Thai company last month.

You see, the chickens, all 17,000 of them, just went poof.

Yeah, I know. We’re in the middle of a health crisis, but everyone loves a mystery, especially when it’s politically tinged.

To those who have been mired in fear and anxiety over Covid-19, here’s what’s going on.

The Thai company made two chicken donations. One, consisting of 20,000 live chickens, went to the Association of Barangay Councils (ABC) and the other went to City Hall with the Mayor’s Information and Liaison Offices (Milo) tasked to distribute the chickens to barangays.

ABC president and Kasambagan Barangay Captain Franklyn Ong said he already distributed the chickens to the 80 village chiefs. The turnover was documented, which was why Young did not question it. It had nothing to do with the fact that the two men belong to the same political party.

As for the 17,000 chickens, well, Young said nobody in City Hall could give him a categorical answer about the donation, but he received reports that some Milo members were selling chickens in the downtown area.

Of course, if you ask Ong what happened to the chickens he turned over to the village chiefs he too would draw a blank. “It was their prerogative whether they give it to the barangay frontliners or to residents,” he said.

To me, the real mystery is not what happened to the chickens -- obviously these got eaten -- but why Young and other city officials could not see the growing number of people living on the streets.