Bzzzzz: With IATF rebuffing Gwen on compromise, legal issues stay unresolved, unless Capitol sues... Mike vows, 'Hindi maaring mangangamoy ang Cebu City.'

·5 min read

Tagalog-speaking Rama

FIRST on why then Cebu City Acting Mayor Michael Rama was speaking in Tagalog, his promise that the city would never smell from uncollected garbage couched in the national language (or the major basis of the national language).

Mike Rama was on his last day as acting mayor when interviewed Wednesday, June 30, on Network Briefing News (NBN), a public service program of the government-owned People's Television Network. Jose Ruperto Martin Andanar, secretary of Presidential Communications Operations Office, who hosted NBN, asked VM Rama to speak in Tagalog, as its audience was national.

Mike did, or tried to, but his answer to the question about the quarrel between the garbage contractor and the landfill owner, which could lead to situation where the city would smell from the stench of uncollected garbage, was this, in effect:

It would not happen. The city has an army of garbage collectors and a fleet of trucks at Department of Public Services and the barangays also have their trucks and personnel who will collect the garbage.

The City Council special session last June 30 even revealed an apparent irregularity: of the contractor being paid for the hauling done by DPS and the barangays.

That, plus Mike Rama's disclosure of the city's capability to collect garbage, using City Hall resources, raises eyebrows on why the City has been spending huge sums of money for the purpose. This year alone, the City budgeted P404 million, of which only P107 million is left to pay for the collection job in the next six months.

But Rama may be right. The City, through DPS and the barangays, can collect garbage at the source and haul it to the Binaliw landfill or the transfer site in Inayawan. "Kun mayrong mangangamoy, ang mga tao ng Inayawan." The contractors's quarrel with the landfill operator is affecting the disposal of garbage to its final destination, not the collection.

The word, according to Roque

If one takes the word of Harry Roque, who speaks not just for President Rodrigo Duterte but also for the IATF-MEID, there is no compromise with Cebu Province on the protocol for Filipino returnees from abroad.

The national protocol laid down by IATF and approved by the President will prevail over the local Provincial Board resolution.

A Philstar story said that Roque Thursday, July 1, repeated the Malacañang order that all LGUs shall follow uniform health protocols set by IATF. Fourteen days, with 10 days at a facility-based quarantine, swab test on the seventh day, and the remaining four days at the returnees' home. No word from Capitol whether it has received notice of the IATF or Palace rejection of the governor's compromise offer.

In sum, Governor Gwen Garcia's appeal to apply the Cebu Province protocol to Cebuanos was rebuffed, barely two days after her strong arguments "reverberated" in the halls of the Capitol.

The EO and the ordinance may be amended or repealed or left in the books as dead-letter local statutes. Or the local officials may sue IATF, raising the issue to the court where dispute over local autonomy and supremacy of national laws over IATF/presidential order may be resolved.

The way Gwen said 'elected'

Governor Gwen, in her June 29 speech at the Cebu face-off between local officials and IATF leaders and experts, mentioned elected at least four times. The first "elected" was said aloud, with heavy stress on the second syllable, in an apparently deliberate intent to show its significance, as if, one observer said, she was like telling the public the local officials were voted to office and the IAFT officials were not.

The way she pronounced "dreaded" to describe Covid was also ear-catching: the "r" rolled and the voice some decibel higher. She got rapt attention but, as indicated by the post-meeting media interviews with IATF officials, it didn't influence Manila. The IATF officials in post-meeting media interviews said they were there merely to listen and report to the agency en banc what was said. The promise sounded like rote: "to continue the conversation" with Capitol.

Apparently, they didn't even wait for the next IATF meeting on Monday. Roque announced the rebuff on Governor Gwen's compromise offer last July 1.

55 IATF experts

You know how many experts IATF employs and/or consults.

By Health Secretary Francisco Duque III's count: "55 or so." He didn't bring all of them to Cebu for the June 29 meeting, only a few, maybe those with the more impressive resumes. Which impress the governor and must have made her a bit defensive: "A doctor I am not," said Gwen.

Seven-day quarantine?

On June 28, a day before the June 29 meeting of an IATF-MEID panel with the Cebu Provincial Board and local officials at the Capitol social hall, the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases issued Resolution #123-C, series of 2021, which, among others, provides that individuals vaccinated here or abroad shall be required to undergo a seven-day facility-based quarantine upon arrival in the Philippines. After the seven days, they shall "monitor themselves" for the next seven days for symptoms.

The resolution amends IATF Resolution #119 s. 2021 regarding vaccination rules but otherwise sticks to the protocols earlier set under IATF's omnibus guidelines for inbound travelers. Question: for returning overseas Filipinos (ROFs) or overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), is it still 10 days, or reduced to seven days, for the hotel, say if they were already vaccinated?

And note that once the hotel-quarantined arrivals are released after the seven-day hotel stay, they are on their own. There is no mention of a home quarantine monitored by the local government, -- the city or town where they spend their post-hotel stay -- unlike in the province protocol, which supposedly will have the LGU watching over the rest of the isolation days.


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