Carvajal: Out of touch

·2 min read

IATF is stepping back but one big reason for sledgehammer-like health protocols is that these come from officials who are awfully out of touch with the harsh realities of ordinary people’s lives. From where they issue such financially harsh orders, they don’t feel the insecurities and anxieties of those who must survive both Covid-19 and the threat of penury it has posed.

The recent mortifying thumbs-down by IATF on Cebu Gov. Gwen Garcia’s more economically sensitive health protocols for returning OFWs and ROFs is just one example. From their comfortable perch, IATF officials couldn’t appreciate the governor’s effort to strike a delicate balance between helping Cebuanos survive not only the virus but also other life-threatening challenges it has caused.

A 10-day stay in a quarantine hotel can make anybody poorer by thousands of pesos, money that could feed a family or buy medicine for a sick

child, parent or grandparent. The application of this requirement should be adjusted to fit the quarantine status of the locality. Like Cebu province is not experiencing the kind of viral spread the NCR plus has to cope with. Also, if a person is fully vaccinated he/she should get some slack.

Government is hard-pressed convincing people to get vaccinated. But what’s the use if you are treated just like the un-vaccinated? Face mask and physical distancing could stay, but it seems to me like the best incentive to vaccination would be more freedom of movement. More freedom to move around and earn a living and just as importantly to socialize and keep one’s sanity on the high side of normal.

In any case, the imposition of high-handedly stringent health protocols without considering local circumstances is just the latest show of how out of touch our national officials are. Millions of us do not enjoy the convenience of a decent home and safe running water. Yet we have so much money for super-highways, billion-peso bridges, airports, expensive gunships and warships for the convenience of the well-to-do and the protection of their properties.

It’s not lack of budget that explains the official neglect of the ordinary Filipino’s basic needs. It is explained by our high-living officials being so out of touch with ordinary people’s lives.

(This is the reason I suggested in an earlier column that students should take a year off from high school to serve poor communities so they know experientially how it feels to live under adverse economic circumstances.)

In any case, I am glad Governor Gwen is standing up to out-of-touch officials and easing us towards the new normal of living with a virus that medical experts say will continue, like the flu, to challenge public health and the economy periodically.

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