Wenceslao: Setback

Bong O. Wenceslao

IN NORMAL times, classes would have already started by now but since we are in uncertain times, school campuses nationwide have remained empty. I passed by the school of the younger of my two sons and it was generally empty. I missed those times when the small campus was bursting with high schoolers learning and enjoying it at the same time. My sons have remained at home for more than two months already, spending a big chunk of the day on cell phones, computers and television.

The province has eased a bit now with its general community quarantine or GCQ. Roads are getting thick with vehicles even with only selected public transportation allowed to ply them. The checkpoints are gone and where the tents remain on some streetsides, the people taking shelter in them are idly sitting and talking and no longer bothering with the vehicles passing by.

Stores are open and customers are no longer subjected to strict rules like lining up for quarantine pass checks although temperatures are still checked, face masks are still worn and they are admonished to continue to practice one meter physical distancing. It is like the island, except for the cities of Cebu and Talisay, is inching towards normalcy.

The Inter-Agency Task Force battling the spread of the coronavirus has decided to place Cebu City back to enhanced community quarantine or ECQ and Talisay City back to modified ECQ. The restrictions are back, which is good if the goal is to slow down the coronavirus infections but bad for the economy and the livelihood of the residents in the said local government units.

This has always been a difficult balancing act for the government. The virus wouldn’t just stop spreading without a proven-to-be-effective vaccine and/or an equally effective cure. What makes Covid-19 dangerous is the lack of a cure and its deadly intent. And our way to prevent our hospitals from being overwhelmed by it is via those lockdowns that, among other things, paralyze businesses.

There is not much of a fuss on the status of Talisay although Mayor Samsam Gullas has complained because of the low number of infections in his jurisdiction compared with some other areas under MECQ or ECQ. Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia joined Gullas in airing the complaints but the last word will still be with the task force. In the meantime, the restrictions will have to be imposed again.

I think, though, that concerned local government officials need to subject the manner they battled the coronavirus to a rigorous assessment to pinpoint their failings. The increase in the number of infections, aside from being partly a product of urban blight, could also be traced to method. On this, local government officials can learn from other highly urbanized cities that were successful, to a certain extent, in battling the pandemic. Copying is good if general welfare is the goal.

What I mean is that concerned local government officials should consider the setbacks they are encountering as a challenge to do better. That’s the process of knowing: learning from past mistakes to avoid future ones.