Wenceslao: Objectivity

Bong O. Wenceslao

I ALWAYS thought it would be difficult to battle the Covid-19 pandemic in Cebu City. No matter who the government official would be assigned to lead it. I have already cited population and the physical and geographical setup of the metropolis where the city is in. That is why I am amused by the politically inclined who claim their idols could have done better than those who are leading now the local government units notably in Metro Cebu.

Our place in Sitio Kawayan in Barangay Sambag 2 reported its first infection by the coronavirus days ago and since then the fight waged mainly by barangay officials has turned out to be a protracted one. The main complaint is the difficulty in imposing the protocol, especially on staying at home, the wearing of face masks and physical distancing.

As I have said before, this problem is not a product of the lack of education or hardheadedness. Following those protocol to the letter requires an upheaval of the community setup that government has allowed to fester in almost all urban centers in the country.

I have seen how Sitio Kawayan has become the cramped neighborhood that it is now. When our parents decided to transfer here, the place, which is located at the back of the old TB Pavilion, at least had spaces for the community to breathe. Tuberculosis is a communicable disease but our neighbors and we risked living near the then operational medical center for economic reasons. We were renting a house in nearby Waling-waling St. and being a “squatter” in Sitio Kawayan meant money for rent would become “savings” instead of “expense.”

But the population in our village grew through the years as the number of people from other places sought shelter there. I realized this when I met in one of the city’s upland barangays, somebody who was a neighbor in Sitio Kawayan. That was when I roamed the upland areas for a different purpose and meant many of the people now residing in our sitio are from outside the city’s lowlands, which is part of the main urban center in Central Visayas. That complicates the effort to lock down the coronavirus.

As for those anti-Covid 19 protocol, how can we force people in cramped areas to stay in their homes? That is easy to do in gated communities but not in places like our sitio. You can hold people in one tiny “home” for a certain length of time but not for long. As I noted before, most of the time spent by those who live in cramped shelters are outside the “homes.”

What I am saying is that the fight to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in Cebu City and its environs is inherently difficult. I am not saying that the spread of the coronavirus here can’t be prevented. It can be prevented but doing so is difficult. That is why residents need to stretch their patience or find ways to contribute to the fight.

As for the government officials, they must deal with people with knowledge of the difference between the setup in cramped villages as opposed to the one in gated communities. Objectivity helps not only in crafting protocol but more so in implementing them.