Wenceslao: Acts of politicians

Bong O. Wenceslao

WE ARE reaching an interesting phase in the battle against the Covid-19 pandemic. Like most places in the country, Cebu is slowly being returned to normal by local government officials who played key roles in the imposition of quarantine protocols to prevent the spread here of the coronavirus.

If you ask me to assess the actions of local government officials, I would say that those of Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia have been the most chronicled because she took the bull by the horn, sort of, with press conferences that helped enlighten her constituents on the situation they were in and timely directives to answer concerns, like the complaint against the national government’s order not to allow even wives to ride with their husbands on motorcycles.

During crises, information dissemination is important because people need to be enlightened and given guidance to be able to work well with the government. More so because the protocols imposed affect their day-to-day activities. Meanwhile, it would be good to mention the real performers in the bureaucracy: the village leaders.

Village leaders, like our officials in Barangay Sambag 2, are being given even more crucial roles as the government eases the restrictions imposed weeks ago. Some parts of our village, Sitio Kawayan, are still being monitored after the first few cases of coronavirus infections were monitored there weeks ago. Barangay officials will have to decide which areas would be locked down even as restrictions are being eased in many other places in Cebu City.

Incidentally, we haven’t heard much from our lawmakers even on the matter of easing the anxieties of their constituents. Most, if not all of them, disappeared at the height of the pandemic when their presence or voices are most needed. But Congress as a whole shrunk, conveniently hiding in principle on the separation of powers. But congressmen and senators could still have helped local government officials in the battle against the pandemic.

Congress, specifically the House of Representatives, only showed up to tackle controversial issues not related to the pandemic, like the ABS-CBN franchise, the anti-terrorism measure and the further opening of the country’s economy to foreign investors. Those issues only served to heighten people’s anxieties. How important are those issues compared to the need to provide the stimulus for the country to rise again after its economy got crippled by the effort to win the battle against the pandemic?

But these politicians may just have seen how vulnerable people are these days and grabbed the opening. I only hope that the Senate would, as has happened at times in the past, act as fiscalizer or at the very least be the conscience of this administration. Those issues have a long-term effect on our democracy and independence. These can’t be tackled objectively at this time when the country is still reeling from the effects of the pandemic, has still to recover economically and may yet be hit by another wave of infections.