THE entry of Secretary Roy Cimatu as overseer of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) in Cebu and the implementation of hard lockdown have received divergent reactions from Cebuanos. There are those who find relief that the national leadership is taking a direct hand before the pandemic will turn into pandemonium. A priest commented, “There is no need to show military tanks on the streets. To use shock and awe tactics to impose discipline is not sustainable and does not lead to obedience driven by convictions.”
But whatever your view may be, it is a fact that Cebu has become a war zone, not that security forces have been given marching orders to impose directives, but because the number of Covid-19 cases is rising and danger of more deaths imminent.
Did it have to take an outsider to tell us where we have gone wrong? Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, Joint Task Force (JTF) Covid Shield commander, said that “local residents are not strictly following the quarantine rules as they saw people going out of their homes, not wearing face masks and not observing the physical distancing.”
The suspension of quarantine passes is one of the keys. Whoever thought of issuing passes deserves to be punished. Holding a pass became a privilege and subject to abuse. There were those having more than necessary, while others had none at all.
I am confident of the Cebuanos heeding the guidelines imposed by the IATF. We have gone through one crisis after another and we were able to overcome these. This war is about staying at home as the invisible enemy can strike anywhere and anyone.
Still the IATF and the local leadership must go beyond the lockdown and security issues. A colleague in the accountancy profession commented on Facebook that his savings have nearly diminished to buy necessities as he has not received SAP. Much worse is the situation of a fellow musician and DJ who is homeless and posted the place where he sleeps: the sidewalk. He wrote: “Hoping da cops won’t be strict on me, God is da only one that helps and answers my prayers don’t worry I’m still alive & virus free!” How will the government address the dire situation of the homeless, the poor and those who are unemployed?
I am hopeful that the IATF is taking a holistic approach to resolve the deteriorating situation. Surely, they will conduct more testings, identify infected clusters, do contact tracing, impose quarantine to those who are Covid-19 positive, provide food and other necessities to all citizens.
Most importantly, there should be a daily update on the situation, so the public will not be left in the dark. The citizenry must hear only one voice that they can trust. There is too much politicking and that too is the problem.