Espinoza: Deputize good citizens to enforce health protocols

Elias L. Espinoza
·3 min read

WHO is at fault? The increase of the rate of Covid-19 infection now, which surpassed last year's count when the country was in lockdown, not only in Cebu and its cities, but also in other metropolis in the country was somehow blamed on the alleged failure of the local government units (LGUs) to sustain their efforts in contact tracing of those infected with the virus. Really?

I have never pretended to be an MD (morag doctor). But contact tracing, with due respect to Baguio City Mayor Ben Magalong, the nominated contact tracing czar, which this government is good at using highfalutin words, is not the foolproof solution in preventing the spread of the coronavirus. Contact tracing merely counts those who are infected and, yes, prevent further the contagion, but the real prevention against the virus is the strict enforcement of the health protocols.

Pardon me, but most if not all LGUs are guilty of the lackadaisical implementation of the minimum health protocols for the people to properly wear their face mask, face shields in public places and social distancing. The worse violators are those working in public markets since nobody is watching them. We all know that our health is our own concern. But there are still people who do not care for others' health and safety that they only comply with the health protocols when it's enforced on them.

This is not in praise of the malls' management, but the last time I was in one of the malls to buy our home needs, the security guards and some personnel where the ones enforcing the health protocols on undisciplined mall goers, who put their face mask on their chin or place their face shields on their heads and don't follow social distancing. Those without the face mask and face shield are barred from the malls.

I've said this many times but those responsible officials ignored my suggestions. Who am I anyway? The minimum health protocols are more breached than observed in the public markets, streetside food vendors, and sari-sari stores but the LGUs have done nothing about it. Why? Because of politics. Some politicians just don't have the balls to enforce the laws.

By chance, I met last week Cebu's IATF Deputy Implementor, Retired Major General Mel Feliciano. We talked in passing the increasing rate on infection in Cebu City and he agreed that there is soft implementation of the health protocols that contributed to the sudden increase in infection. Feliciano had already instructed the barangay officials to do their share of enforcing the health protocols. They were even warned of sanctions if they fail.

What's truly concerning are the unhinged statements by some government officials that even with the higher number of infections now compared to last year's, they have the audacity to say publicly that there is nothing to be alarmed because the health care facilities or hospitals are not yet overwhelmed with Covid-19 patients instead of forewarning the people to comply with the health protocols to avoid the infection.

To revive the country's economy, the government and private economists want to open all types of businesses, especially tourism. I believe it's doable, just like what our neighboring nations did, but the government should strictly enforce the health protocols that those who not observe should be strictly dealt with not just a slap on their wrists.

If the government does not have sufficient manpower to enforce the health protocols, then deputize more people, who have the integrity and are genuinely concerned with this Covid-19 pandemic problem, to assist in seriously enforcing the health protocols.