Nalzaro: Lockdown never again

Bobby Nalzaro
·4 min read

“My message is don’t mess with us. We can take care of ourselves. I will not and never again accept a lockdown. I will fight for Cebu and the Cebuanos because Cebu is moving on and moving forward.” This was the strongly worded statement of Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia in view of the plan by some groups to place the entire Cebu in lockdown because of the increasing Covid-19 cases and the newly discovered unknown mutations in Cebu. (I will call it “Bisdak variant” because it was discovered here. We already have UK variant, South African and Brazil.)

I am sorry for putting the words of the governor into my mouth. But my interpretation of her statement is that it is like saying “over my dead body.” The governor revealed that there are three doctor-consultants who recommended placing Cebu in lockdown to the Department of Health (DOH). There was even one doctor who recommended that Cebuanos should not be allowed to go out of Cebu. Can the honorable governor reveal the identity of that doctor-consultant? Please tell me his/her identity because I will let him/her eat the printed copy of this column, Gov. It was a good thing that DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III opposed and slammed the recommendation.

DOH 7 officials kept on saying that despite the increase in the number of positive cases, the situation here is under control, claiming the non-full utilization of our health care system. So why panic? They are the experts and we should believe and trust them because their theory is based on scientific findings. The Bisdak mutation should not also be the basis for the lockdown. Did the government order a lockdown in Mountain Province and Quezon City when the UK strain was discovered in those areas?

We just opened our economy and another lockdown will bring us again to economic distress. It will cripple again our economy. Even I don’t want to experience again that scenario we experienced when we were in lockdown. It was a nightmare for all of us. Anyway, while our leaders have some lapses and failures in handling the situation because of lack of experience and due to limited resources, but, as far as their Covid responses, these are already in place.

Quoting former Cebu Regional Trial Court (RTC) executive judge Macaundas Hadjirasul: “No one can claim to have been truly prepared for this crisis. Our leaders have to make innumerable decisions daily without precedents, information, time, manpower, resources and even mobility. Let’s be less judgmental.”

The Covid-19 pandemic has forced governments around the world to implement lockdowns, mandating businesses to shut down for extended periods of time. We experienced that sometime in April up to July last year when our government decided to place the entire country under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ). That situation had resulted to disruptions in the economy at static and dynamic settings. Even now, the pandemic continues to disrupt the economy in some areas in the country as the cases continue to escalate.

While some countries managed to bring the outbreak down because of the vaccine and by implementing stricter measures on minimum safety health protocols, others are still experiencing increases in cases. Some countries are even experiencing a second wave despite adopting stringent measures. Here in the Philippines, in the absence of a vaccine, there is a still a need to flatten the curve to avoid overwhelming the country’s health care system. In the absence of a vaccine, our government is still adopting non-pharmaceutical and medicinal interventions to control the transmission of the disease. But experts say that the vaccine is not a guarantee that one can no longer be inflicted with the virus.

The government is just implementing the quarantine status of each region or areas like granular lockdowns, non-opening of some establishments and prohibiting certain age bracket — below 15 and above 65 years old — from going out of their residences and minimizing the operations of public transportation. Travel restrictions remain enforced in some areas considered high risk, affecting domestic and foreign tourists and the tourism industry as a whole, including related businesses like the hotel and airlines industries.

Tourism-intensive economies have experienced increasing unemployment, resulting in the decline of tourism demand. But some hotels have diverted their business strategy. Seeing the increase in Covid cases, they found the opportunity to divert their establishments into quarantine facilities. There are less tourists while Covid cases are increasing, so they better divert their businesses to accommodate positive cases. This is what we call in Swot (strength, weakness, opportunity and threat) analysis as converting your weaknesses and threat to opportunity and strength.

I fully agree with the governor, “lockdown never again.” Ang inahan sa lalawigan maoy mas nasayod kon unsay angayang himuon alang sa iyang mga anak. Busa padayon lang jud ta, Gob.