Wenceslao: Lockdown talk

Bong O. Wenceslao

WHILE Gwendolyn Garcia is Cebu's governor, it pays to understand the dynamics in the province's leadership to understand its leaders’ actions that could affect us, constituents, considerably especially in relation to the current Covid-19 scare. There are talks of drastic actions, like a lockdown and many are worried. The governor seems to be pushing us in that direction, but how much power does she wield for her to fully realize that?

The governor leads the province's component cities and municipalities and that excludes highly urbanized cities like Cebu City, Mandaue City and Lapu-Lapu City. There, the directives of the governor are muted by the directives of the city mayors. Precisely because they are independent.

Mayors of component cities and towns are obligated to follow the governor's lead, but how sincerely they follow the governor's directives is again dependent on how fully these are embraced by the mayors. I live in a community that is under Cebu and have observed the dynamics between the govervor and officials of component cities and municipalities.

The governor, for example, ordered a 24-hour curfew that was targeted mainly at students and elders aged 65 years old and above province-wide. That sounded like the order was easily implementable. It was, but only for a few, like business establishments, but not for the many. I mean, how could such a curfew be imposed by a few local government personnel on so many constituents?

But the effort to implement the order was noticeable in some instances, like local carenderias taking the examples of Jollibee and McDonalds by not allowing people to dine in. The streets got deserted rather earlier than usual, with drivers of habal-habals and trisikads unable to do their thing and earn some income. And yes, students and seniors mostly stayed home because there are no classes and the seniors are re-tired, with emphasis on the word “tired.”

Which brings me to my point, which is about the lockdown. If it is only the governor that orders a lockdown, then it affects only the people in the province and excludes those in the cities of Cebu, Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu unless the mayors of the said local government units follow Gwen's lead. And how aggressively would the mayors of component cities and municipalities implement it?

A reminder. Drastic measures against Covid are being ordered within the context of constitutional democracy and not military rule. That takes away the intimidation aspect that some government executives would want to use against their constituents. In this time of Covid, seeking people's cooperation instead of using strong-arm tactics against them would be more effective.

The people have been mostly docile since the Covid scare gripped us, following wherever the government would take. One of the reasons for this is that they truly want this pandemic problem solved and they want to be part of the solution. The other reason is trust in government actions. Let us thus not give the people a reason to lose this trust.