Espinoza: With or without ECQ, let's share the burden

Elias L. Espinoza

MANY are hoping, including the Cebu City officials, that the 15-day enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) enforced in the city by the IATF that ended June 30 would not be extended. The Department of Health (DOH)-Central Visayas has recommended that Cebu City be placed under general community quarantine (GCQ) with the colatilla to put barangays with high number of Covid-19 cases under sequential lockdowns.

Under ECQ, the city's economy is going down the drain since hundreds, if not thousands, of people are now jobless because the non-essential businesses are closed under ECQ. However, the city or the national leadership could not place in jeopardy the health and safety of the residents against the coronavirus over the city's economy.

Retired general Carlito Galvez Jr, the chief implementer of the National Task Force Against Covid-19, emphasized the need to continue the ECQ for Cebu City in order to strictly enforce the quarantine and health protocols because the Covid-19 cases have not waned. While Galvez said he does not want to preempt President Rodrigo Duterte, but he already voiced out his personal view.

Cebu City Mayor Edgar C. Labella has resigned to the fact that the spread of this coronavirus could not be prevented unless the city is still under ECQ even after June 30 to strictly enforce the quarantine and health protocols. The Cebu City Council under Vice Mayor Mike Rama's watch should pass an ordinance that provides fine and imprisonment for those who violate the quarantine and health protocols in this pandemic.

President Duterte was expected to announce Tuesday afternoon or during his late evening media briefing on Cebu City's status. Without necessarily anticipating the President's declaration, I think the city's status could be downgraded to modified ECQ and apply the sequential lockdowns as recommended by DOH-7 and without let up in the strict enforcement of the health protocols.

Environment Sec. Roy Cimatu, whom President Duterte sent a week ago to oversee the enforcement of the quarantine and health protocols, already identified the 12 city barangays that have the highest number of Covid-19 positive cases, which are now under lockdown. Following this procedure, the barangays with plenty of coronavirus positive would be secluded and the spread could be prevented.

We agreed that enforcement of the government's laws, rules or regulations especially during this Covid-19 pandemic, falls heavily on the shoulders of the executive department, national and local, through its enforcement agencies. But, let's not forget to also share the bigger burden and responsibility in observing and complying with the laws and health protocols, otherwise this virus would be here with us until the vaccine is available. Scientists say the vaccine maybe available early next year 2021.

There are four things that the DOH wants us to comply: stay at home unless necessary to obtain the basic necessities; observe physical distancing; wear face mask; and always wash our hands with soap or apply alcohol. And, why is that many cannot follow these simple health protocols? Because as President Duterte said "mga gahi ta'g ulo" (we're hard headed).

Secretary Cimatu, after identifying, had ordered the lockdown of the 12 city barangays with high number of Covid-19 cases. But last Sunday, there was street dancing in Sitio Alumnus, Barangay Basak-San Nicolas. Some 53 illegal gamblers (tigbakay) were arrested in Tabogon, Cebu on Saturday and there was a report that somewhere in Bacayan, Cebu City, a disco was held on Saturday night. Another group of illegal gamblers (tigbakay) were apprehended in Mandaue City.

The IATF should throw the book at the violators to let them know that the government is serious in its campaign against the virus.