Espinoza: Why wait?

Elias L. Espinoza
·3 min read

POLICE presence in all barangays is what every local government unit (LGUs), particularly Cebu City, needs to strictly enforce the minimum health protocols now that the number of coronavirus infections are increasing at the rate of 100 cases a day as a consequence of the parties or gatherings during the past holidays. That the situation is not yet alarming because the isolation centers and hospitals are not yet overwhelmed is simply unhinged.

During the day, public places like the basketball courts and pocket markets in the barangays abound with people, who most of them are not complying with the minimum health protocols of social distancing and wearing face mask, or if they wear one, it only covers their chin, because nobody will caution or admonish them. These hard-asses would only follow rules or laws if they see men in uniform.

In short, what the LGUs need is the enforcement to the letter of the minimum health protocols and this was proven effective in the middle of last year when the Covid-19 infection was at its peak. The barangay tanods, supposedly the multiplier force of the police, are not the doing the rounds in these public places to enforce the minimum health protocols.

When the Covid-19 infection rate went down before December last year, which was widely reported as sort of accomplishment by the LGUs and the health authorities and the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) was reduced to general community quarantine (GCQ) and now under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) to revive the economy, most people went out unrestrained after several months of being locked up in their homes.

Since we're under MGCQ because Covid-19 is still very much around and the vaccine while it's now available but unreachable, so to speak, by our government, what the LGUs should do is simply enforce without let-up the IATF rules and regulations and its executive orders on health protocols to keep to the lowest minimum the rate of Covid-19 infection and not to wait until the infection rate becomes unmanageable.

While I suggested that police presence in every barangay is necessary to strictly enforce the minimum health protocols, but the policemen are also at risk of the infection of this virus that their patrol duties maybe limited such that we should also do our responsibility of avoiding the virus and its spread by complying with the health protocols.

But there are still those who think that Covid-19 is a hoax, so they refused to comply with the health protocols that as a result, the Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) has arrested a total of 1,825 violators in the second half of last month. Of the 1,825 that the police apprehended in its Oplan Bulabog, 27 are minors, 14 to 17 years old. The police also ordered the management of more than 100 establishments to explain why they should not be sanctioned for violating social distancing in their premises and selling liquor to customers.

Cebu City is generous as it imposes a fine of P500 or community service for violation of the health protocols. Mandaue City has fewer violations of the health protocols because it imposes a fine of P5,000. Last year, five persons were arrested and fined P500 in Mandaue City for not wearing face mask. Those who failed to pay the fine were incarcerated for a week.

In Cebu City, CCPO Chief Colonel Josefino Liga plans to file cases against those who violated the health protocols for the second or third time. Colonel Ligan, that's the best way to discipline those hardheaded felons. Show them the hard lesson.