Nalzaro: Bisaya are 'soberbio'

·4 min read

“SOBERBIO.” I used to hear this word from my mestiza Spanish lola (grandmother) everytime she would scold us during our younger days. In English, it means “arrogant and stubborn.” This is similar to “cabeza dura” (hard-headed). President Rodrigo Duterte used this term last year in describing how hard-headed the Cebuanos are when our leaders defied some guidelines from the national government to prevent the spread of the coronavirus (Covid-19). That was the time when there was a surge of Covid-19 cases here. “Kamong mga Bisaya gahi mo’g ulo. Mga soberbio (You Cebuanos are hard-headed),” the President said.

Maybe the President will use the word “soberbio” again if it will reach his attention that our local leaders will defy the order issued by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Inter-agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) to close all cemeteries in the country during All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day, in order to prevent the spread of the virus.

Defying the DILG and IATF order, Cebu City Acting Mayor Mike Rama said he is not ordering the closure of cemeteries from Oct. 29 to November 2. He wants all private and public cemeteries to be opened to vaccinated individuals. Unvaccinated individuals may visit their departed loved ones prior to Oct. 29 and after Nov. 2. Rama, however, clarified that he is not out to fight with the DILG and the IATF. “We will not be quarrelling but we can also opt to not follow,” Rama told reporters. The acting mayor hopes that the IATF will also listen and understand his side because, he said, the city has been preparing for this event.

Rama was being inconsistent with this stand when he said, “I will not fight with the DILG and IATF but we can also opt not to follow their guidelines.” When you disregard a legitimate order and insist on your own that is already a resistance. Meaning, you opt to question the authority of these agencies. And opposition, resistance and defiance mean “battle.” A “battle” means fight, quarrel, clash, combat, skirmish and engagement. And then Rama said he is not quarrelling with the DILG and the IATF. Oh, come on, Mike. Naglibog ko.

Our leaders are always reminding the public not to be complacent because the virus is pretty much around. And yet the same leaders are encouraging events that might be a superspreader of the virus. Consider the stand of Rama in opening the cemeteries. Why would he insist on it? Even if he claims that the city is much prepared for the event and only vaccinated people will be allowed to visit the cemeteries, is he sure that our law enforcers can effectively control the crowd once they are inside the cemeteries?

For Cebu City residents alone, we have thousands and thousands of vaccinated individuals. What if all of these people would flock to the cemeteries? Can our law enforcers control them? They could not even control those who buy food stuff at the Carbon market. So, what if these people are vaccinated? Being vaccinated is not a guarantee that one cannot be infected with the virus. So, why gamble?

Is this for Mike’s ‘pogi’ points because it’s election time and the request to open the cemeteries came from the Roman Catholic Church? Don’t mix politics and protecting the public health, Mr. Rama. Tradition and religious beliefs can be set aside in order to protect public health. How many religious activities have we set aside amid this pandemic? We discouraged the holding of fiestas, processions and the observance of the Holy Week to prevent the spread of the virus.

Even the Catholic Church has advised its faithful to observe All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day at home to be safe from infection. If Mike is a Christian he should have the conscience not to put the lives of the Cebuanos at risk. Think of this, Mr. Rama.

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Vaccine hesitancy and vaccine preference are still the top reasons why there is a low turnout in the ongoing vaccination rollout. Acceptance of the vaccine has been on the decline these past few months. Because of this, achieving herd immunity has become even more challenging. There is no longer a problem on the supply of vaccines but the people are still hesitant in accepting the vaccines and are even questioning their efficacy.

In order to achieve herd immunity the soonest time possible, Sen. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson agreed on vaccinating the general public who wants to be vaccinated regardless of their priority group. This, after vaccine czar Carlito Galvez proposed to recalibrate their vaccination strategy beginning the fourth quarter of 2021.

Lacson made this proposal to Department of Health Sec. Francisco Duque III during the Senate Finance committee hearing for the DOH’s 2022 budget. Duque agreed with Lacson’s proposal but said that a bigger jab rate should be opened to the general public and there should be an express lanes for senior citizens and people with comorbidities.

Lacson, a presidential aspirant, also urged the government to be transparent and to exercise restraint in spending the country’s limited resources. “We should get vaccinated not so much due to the fear of being arrested if we refuse but because we have the bayanihan spirit,” he said.

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