Nalzaro: Labella did his best but his best wasn’t good enough


“TAKE credit when things go well, deflect blame when they don’t. It is a natural human response,” says author and coach Ben Dattner, author of the book, “The Blame Game.” Dattner said, “We want to be recognized by our effort and accomplishments and we resist being blamed when things don’t go right. This leads to habitual patterns of credit and blame at work.”

Dattner explained that “most successful leaders are able to see their role in the blame game, admit mistakes and focus on fixing rather than blaming.”

The critics of Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella are having their “field day” on social media in criticizing and blaming the hizzoner in what they claimed as “mishandling” of the Covid-19 pandemic. This, after the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease (IATF) reverted the quarantine status of Cebu City to enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) from general community quarantine (GCQ). They totally blamed Labella for this setback under the so-called command responsibility.

What is blame game? It is a situation in which one party blames others for something bad or unfortunate rather than attempting to seek a solution. Well, we cannot blame some sectors, especially his detractors and the political opposition to blame the mayor for his failure, if there is any, in the fight against the pandemic. He is the focal person, the “overall commander and team captain” on this fight. He is the visible target of his political enemies.

But before we will toss the blame on Labella, I would like to remind his critics that Labella is no Superman. He may have his own shortcomings as he is not a perfect person. There are matters beyond his control. He cannot control other national government agencies like the Department of Health (DOH), which also has a vital function in this crisis. But, at least, he tried his best, but maybe his best wasn’t good enough.

Can he control the virus community transmission when most people did not heed health officials and the call to observe protocols, even the basic protocol of social distancing and wearing of face mask? What do you want from Labella? You want him to adopt an iron fist policy in dealing with the violators? We know his personality. He is not the kind of person who adopts an arrogant, vindictive and barbaric kind of governance. He is very kind, compassionate and understanding. But if that’s what the people want, we will ask Labella to declare an ala-Martial Law style. Not just an ECQ, but a very strict ECQ.

The reason cited by the task force in placing Cebu City under ECQ is because of the “increasing number of new cases and widespread community transmission in majority of the barangays in the city, as well as consistent case doubling time of less than seven days and significant increase in critical care utilization against critical care capacity.” So, the Task Force only focused on this. But what about the other aspects and preparations, especially the putting up of quarantine facilities, which Task Force chief implementer Carlito Galvez himself applauded Labella for?

I think I can say this without fear of contradiction. The problem with Labella, if there is any, is that he listens to some people who have personal and political agenda, who ride on this issue out of political considerations. Like the massive rapid anti-body testing. I think it was not his idea. It was an idea from someone who had his own agenda. Labella should not be pressured and influenced by these people. Now, will these people be willing to share the blame and flak?

But let's not debate on that and let's stop the blame game. Let this serve as a lesson learned. Let us focus on the future instead of the past. There is much to be learned from past events, but rehashing past actions or issues can be counter-productive if it focuses on assigning blame. Think about what needs to be done now and in the future.