Briones: Setting priorities

Publio J. Briones III
·3 min read

Let’s get one thing clear, and I have said this many times before, if we want to see an end to this nightmare we call the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic, we all have to work together.

And by “we,” I mean everyone, although I’m putting the emphasis on the public because, let’s face it, the national government has done more than enough.

The lockdowns it imposed last year have devastated the local economy. Many people are unemployed. Many people are going hungry or have been forced on the streets. Many people are suffering.

And while all of this is going on, it has yet to unveil a recovery plan or offer an economic stimulus package.

What am I talking about?

It hasn’t even revealed when the Covid vaccines will be rolled out, assuming, of course, that it has already made the purchase. In the meantime, many of our neighbors have administered the vaccine to their citizens.

I see the national government is under a lot of pressure. I’m pretty sure it’s doing its utmost to ensure that when the vaccine does come, the delivery will be smooth sailing. So it must be very busy preparing the logistics.

And I understand why it plans to prevent local government units (LGUs) from procuring their own supply. If the LGUs succeed, then the national government will be made to look incompetent.

Oh I know, it says it wants to prevent corruption. Trust me, at this point, I don’t think the public will care. The priority is getting the vaccines here. The witch hunt can wait after everyone who wants to be immunized is immunized.

Anyway, there will be a day of reckoning. And it’s called next year’s elections.

Already, there has been a lot of strutting, a lot of grandstanding, a lot of finger pointing. Many want to divert the public’s attention away from the current health crisis and away from the national government’s failure to get on top of things.

You see, there’s a difference between dealing with a problem and actually addressing it.

If, by the end of the month, the national government decides to place the entire Cebu under lockdown because of the recent rise in the number of Covid-19 cases in the island, then we’re back to square one.

No wonder Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia is up and arms against the suggestion.

“Don’t mess with us,” she warned. “We can take care of ourselves. I will not and never accept lockdown. I will fight for Cebu and the Cebuano because Cebu is moving on and moving forward,” she said.

The three LGUs not under the Province’s jurisdiciton should take note.

And I agree with the governor. Not because I don’t think the current number of active cases, particularly in Cebu City, is of no concern. No. But I believe in life going on. Anyway, as the governor pointed out, measures are already in place against transmission and LGUs across the province, including the cities of Cebu, Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu, have devised a system to keep infections in check.

That’s why the national government should focus on procuring the vaccine. Let vote-rich Cebu deal with the situation. Of course, with public help and cooperation.