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Rough Cuts | Should we want to be dying witnesses?

We are fully in accord with the policy that the national government is adopting as a response to the deadly threat of the coronavirus disease 2019. And we also agree with the procedures being taken by the government of Davao City in implementing at the local level the national response guidelines.

What we feel we do not fully conform with is the order of the regional task force on the corona virus prevention mandating for only one person to undertake deliveries of food and other basic necessity items to the city proper. That is, to the markets, the big-time compradors both public and private.

We believe this is not appropriate and unfair. Yes, allowing only the driver of cargo trucks delivering food and related items or merchandise to proceed to the city proper where the consignees are located, to us, does not help control the virus infection. The helper or hand-help must be left behind at the checkpoints in boundaries of the entries to and exit points from the city the South, the entry or exit area in the north somewhere in the boundaries of the city and Panabo, and in Barangay Buda the city’s boundary with Bukidnon Province.

Imagine how pitiful the cargo truck driver if he had no one to help him unload his cargo of say, vegetables, fist, rice, etc.! This scenario happened last Thursday at the Bankerohan Public market. The cargo vehicle was fully loaded with various kinds of vegetables from Barangay Kapatagan, Digos City, Davao del Sur. When the truck reached the Task Force-Davao checkpoint in Sirawan the driver’s helper was ordered to disembark in accordance with the enhanced quarantine policy imposed in the entire Davao Region.

The driver’s assistant, as well as the driver himself, could not do anything but comply as the checkpoint personnel were unflinching. When the vegetable-loaded vehicle reached the Bankerohan market, according to a close friend of ours who was at the scene in Bankerohan exactly at the arrival area, the driver had a hard time maneuvering his vehicle in a place with so limited a space.

Our friend added that when the unloading of the vegetable cargo was to be done, the driver requested for support from the vegetable consignee. But he was told that under the agreement between the buyer at the farms and the consignee labor on the unloading is on the account of the seller.

Said our friend, the issue was only settled when the driver proposed to the consignee that the cost of labor be deducted from the proceeds of the sale. But just the same the driver had to help in the unloading.

And we are certain what was deducted from the sale proceed would most likely also be pruned from the driver’s pay.

Meanwhile, his assistant had to wait for him at the checkpoint, probably bored of doing nothing, and possibly thinking that he might lose a portion of his expected pay. Or he may even be wondering if his failure to help his driver would result to non-payment of his wage for that particular trip.

And what if between the checkpoint and the final destination of the cargoes to be delivered the vehicle, most likely a truck, will have a flat tire or two? Will not the driver be put in a more precarious situation where he has to focus his attention on changing the tire leaving his cargo vulnerable to the street thieves?

The possibility is that after the flat tire or tires are fixed, half of the cargoes would already be in the hands of the robbers. In such a situation the driver could end up even more penniless.

What a tragedy brought about by the best of intention but possibly not well-thought of policy of the regional task force charged of finding ways to prevent the spread CoViD 19 in the Davao Region.

On the other hand, we can clearly observe the disturbance of the life routine of the residents of Metro Manila as a consequence of the lockdown. It pains us to see tricycle drivers, street and small shop vendors, public utility vehicle drivers and operators suddenly deprived of their means of living.

Yes, there is promise of government assistance to the most affected sectors of the population. But how fast can these reach the families of those whose cooking pan are already turned upside down? And how long will the inventories at the local and national government levels last?

Can the available stocks of basic family commodities outlast the prevalence of the CoViD 19? For now no one can provide definitive answers to all these queries.

We can only hope that we would not end up “dying witnesses” to our fellowmen while their health is also slowly slipping away by the minute.

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