Editorial: Rama’s Oplan ‘Puyo Gihapon’

·3 min read

The latest Executive Order 157 has been issued by Mayor Michael Rama to limit movement of residents as Cebu City is seeing a rapid rise in Covid-19 cases this month—from just 11 active cases recorded on the first day of the year, the active cases soared to 4,570 as of Jan. 19.

The Cebu City Emergency Operations Center (EOC) recorded only a 2.68 percent daily positivity rate (DPR) on Jan. 1, and this is within the five percent threshold set by the World Health Organization (WHO). The DPR in Cebu City had risen by 49.04 percentage points to a dizzying 51.72 percent DPR as of Jan. 19.

According to the WHO, one of the indicators that the epidemic is controlled is by having a positivity rate of less than five percent for the last two weeks. Positivity rate or percent positive is the percentage of all coronavirus tests performed that come out positive.

The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School Public Health explains why knowing the DPR in one’s area is important. It said in an explanatory article published on its website that the positivity rate will be high if the number of positive tests is too high, or if the number of total tests is too low.

A higher percent positive suggests higher transmission and that there are likely more people with coronavirus in the community who haven’t been tested yet.

The 51.72 percent DPR came from the 1,595 samples tested on Jan. 19 that came out positive. Cebu City’s DPR could have been higher if there was mass testing.

Back to Mayor Rama’s issuance of Executive Order 157 (aka Oplan “Puyo Gihapon”). It is understandable that as the city’s chief executive, he has to come up with measures to curb the rise of Covid-19 cases in the city, possibly fueled by Delta and Omicron.

Just like other official government communication, Rama’s order is mostly in English.

In the case of executive orders issued amid the Covid-19 pandemic, local executives are not only communicating to government agencies and public officials. They are also relaying messages to the public, to their constituents.

For the college-educated or residents with good grasp of the English language, they would not have a hard time understanding Executive Order 157. (Except of course if there’s a confusing or unclear provision, the reader with a good English background would be confused as well.)

How about the common folk whose everyday language is predominantly Cebuano? Why not try to write a communication in their own language?

Executive Order 157’s Cebuano words include “puyo” “gihapon,” “barug” and “Sugbo.” Also contained in the document are words of Tagalog origins: “barangayan” and “bayanihan,” and the bastardized translation of the word volunteerism: “boluntarismo.” The rest of the document is in English.

Perhaps, it would not hurt local executives to write directives, memoranda and executive orders in two languages.

The Cebu City Government and the politicians themselves, for sure, have a pool of talented writers who can write in either English or Cebuano or both.

Of course, untranslatable technical terms in English must not be translated to Cebuano because it could confuse the reader and it could sound funny, to the point of idiocy. Retain the technical terms and explain them in Cebuano.

The document could be longer than the one written in English, as Cebuano is a polysyllabic language. But it’s worth the try for better understanding for the benefit of the common folk amid the pandemic, during which several government agencies and officials have been issuing contradictory orders and statements.

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