Espinoza: Charge the corrupt officials!

Elias L. Espinoza

WITH the increasing number of those affected by the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) in Luzon, President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the extension of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) a.k.a. lockdown to the end of April. The ECQ is supposed to end on April 14, but President Duterte extended it to stem the spread of the virus.

In Cebu City, Mayor Edgardo Labella imposed a one-month ECQ since March 28. It is supposed to end on April 28. Are Cebu City officials planning to extend the lockdown in the city considering the increasing number of those infected with Covid-19?

I hope not. They should consider that those hardly hit by the lockdown have started to complain as they struggle for their daily sustenance since most industries and establishments are closed, although restaurants and food suppliers are operating.

With the ECQ enforced in Luzon and in the major cities of the country, the economy is practically at standstill. Greatly affected by the lockdown are the families belonging to the so-called middle class, the wage earners and, particularly the poorest of the poor while aid for the latter is scarce.

Worse, complaints that the assistance was given only to selected beneficiaries in the barangays allegedly due to politics despite the order of the President to give aid to all those in need regardless of political affiliation.

It’s so outrageous that during crisis there are still wicked and depraved people who would take advantage of those in need.

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URBANIZED. Let me step back to the jurisdiction issue between Capitol and Mandaue City when the ECQ of the Province of Cebu was implemented on March 30, 2020 and the governor insisted that Mandaue City is the border of Cebu City in the province. Former Mandaue City Vice Mayor Ading Seno sent me an email to correct what he claims is a grossly erroneous news report that Mandaue City is under the “territorial jurisdiction” of the Province.

Seno said Mandaue was declared a highly urbanized city in 1990 by then Local Government Secretary Dante I. Santos and it became independent of the province and the City’s ordinances are no longer reviewed by the Cebu Provincial Board, which is one of the rights and privileges of a highly urbanized city.

He said the misconception lies in the fact that Mandauehanons still take part in provincial elections. He said Mandaue City is an exception to the general rule that highly urbanized cities cannot vote in provincial elections because of Section 452 of the Local Government Code (RA 7160) that states: “Qualified voters of cities who acquired the right to vote for elective provincial officials prior to the classification of the said cities as highly urbanized after the ratification of the Constitution and before the effectivity of this Code shall continue to exercise such right.”

Seno explained that Congress enacted Mandaue City’s charter in 1969 that granted its residents the right to vote in provincial elections. The New Constitution was ratified in 1987 and in 1990 Mandaue became a highly urbanized city and the Local Government Code took effect in 1991, hence, Mandauehanons still continue to vote and be voted upon in provincial elections. This provision, he said, did not diminish the city’s status as a highly urbanized city and its independence from the province.