QUARANTINE DIARIES: How Gensan’s Dads Screw Up The Covid-19 Response

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MIndaNews / 31 October) –With all eyes now beaming towards the 2022 national and local elections, our city councilors in GenSan are now confining their actions and messages on issues which they think could earn them more votes in the forthcoming electoral exercise, never mind if their constituencies are dying and are getting sick.

As of Saturday, October 31, COVID-19 cases in GenSan continue to wallop beyond 700 cases, with cases of new infections daily consistently going beyond 20 cases threshold.

The number of deaths has reached 15, while hundreds more are fighting for dear life in various hospitals in the city. More than this number are quarantined, and are waiting for the results of their swab tests.

Despite this alarming statistics, our city councilors in GenSan are screwing up the city’s COVID-19 response by opposing almost every measure that the Local IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force) is handing down as suggested by local public health experts. Our city’s tired and exhausted medical and non-medical COVID-19 frontliners are now nearing the brink of surrender.

Previously, our city’s medical and non-medical frontliners requested for the placing of the entire city under MCQ (Modified Community Quarantine) so that they may be given time for rest and to recharge for the difficult battles ahead. But, when the powerful business organizations opposed this, some city councilors publicly raised howls against the MCQ. Other city councilors kept their mouth shut, and refused to defend our frontliners for fear that antagonizing these business leaders may impact negatively on their respective electoral plans.

Most of our city councilors, if not all, are either members of these powerful business groups or are financed by them.

Nevertheless, the local IATF gave in to political and business pressures by lowering its guards. It decided to place the city under MGCQ (Mofified General Community Quarantine) and, thus, restraints to people’s movement are only limited now to the following:

1.The city’s boundaries should only be opened for those people with essential businesses and transaction within the city, which means that restrictions shall be imposed only against non-purposive strollers in the city;

2.Imposition of curfew from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm; and the

  1. Imposition of Sunday lockdown when business activities and transactions are limited, while attendance to church activities is not prohibited.

But, even these very limited and reasonable restrictions on people’s physical movements, our city councilors still opposed these measures though heavens fall. They unanimously passed a resolution, without public hearing, calling for the lifting of the Sunday lockdown and they are now also considering changing the curfew time from 10:00 in the evening to 4:00 in the morning to 12:00 midnight to 4:00 in the morning.

This legislative proposal of our city councilors is really meant to sabotage the city’s COVID-19 response for a purely political purpose. Otherwise, they would not have come up with a ridiculous proposal of imposing a curfew during the time when the people are expected to be already in deep slumber in their respective dwellings. As this proposal is stupid, it is also bereft of science.

During the prevailing cyber era where knowledge and information are just found on our fingertips, we can simply surf online the results of scientific studies proving that COVID-19 has a lifespan, depending as where it is situated. Thus, the purpose of restraints on the people’s movements is to create a time interregnum beyond the lifespan of the virus so that the rate of viral infections can be confined at controllable levels.

These restrictions on people’s movements are also done for the purpose of reducing or controlling the number of COVID-19 infections so that our health facilities would not overwhelmed, and our health workers would not be pushed further into the brink of retreat.

On the other hand, these very limited restrictions on physical movements, being imposed by the local IATF, are precisely to keep the local economy going and, at the same time, limit the spread of the deadly virus, while we are all waiting for the vaccine and other therapeutic cures. This is meant to balance health and economy.

But, no!

What our city councilors want is for the city to open up, without any restrictions, as if there is no pandemic and as if everything else is normal. Probably, Donald Trump is so charismatic that his stupidity travelled almost half of the world to infect our city councilors in GenSan with the virus of Trumpism.

Worse, when the COVID-19’s cases spike, our city councilors do not share any part of the blame. They only blame the officials of the local IATF and make them their convenient scapegoat.

Our city councilors are all invited to local IATF meetings so that their “brilliant” ideas can be heard and considered, but, of all the people, only the opposition Vice Mayor, Ton Acharon, is attending these meetings. The reason for this is simple. They do not want to become part of blame just in case the city’s COVID-19 response falters.

This is politicking 101. During times of crisis, this posturing is condemnable and flirting with murder. During challenging times, we can separate the grain from the chaff and statesmen (and stateswomen) from politicians.

We are publicly advocating for our city councilors to ensure the safety of the workers as we open up the local economy amid the dreaded onslaughts of the pandemic, but this issue does not interest our city councilors at all. They just want to loosen up everything, regardless whether the workers are ensured of their safety or not!

This they want to do at the expense of the people’s lives and wellbeing. What is all important for them is not to antagonize the powerful and influential business organizations, while they set their eyes towards the 2022 elections.

Distrust of the people in our hospitals is already at the very alarming level. There are already consistent reports that people are dying or are suffering pains at their respective homes for refusing to take refuge in hospitals. They fear that, when they do so, they may be automatically designated as COVID-19 patients, thus, subjecting them to galactical hospital bills, like many others.

We are publicly advocating for our city councilors to conduct public hearings to crystallize this issue to restore the people’s trust in hospitals for their safety and wellbeing. But this call is just falling on deaf ears.

Again, what is important for our city councilors is for them not to antagonize this very powerful section of the middle class in the city.

Really, politics kill! It is even more fatal than the COVD-19 virus.

(MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. Ben Sumog-oy is the action officer of IDEFEND-Gensan, Volunteer Head of the Para-legal Unit of Sentro-Socsksargen and Head of the Local Mass Struggle Unit of Akbayan-GenSan.)