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ROUGH CUTS: Travails in the re-opened Roxas night market

NOW Davao City’s Roxas Night Market is back in operation. Though on the night of its re-opening only a few brave souls went there and reconnect with their favorite street food stalls, many of those who re-started their businesses in that particular road stretch expressed optimism that soon Davaoenos will slowly re-converge in the area to enjoy their early nocturnal activities.

It can be recalled that the Roxas Night Market operation was first stopped as a consequence of the deadly September 2, 2016 bombing. That bloody incident, claimed by the authorities to be the handiwork of terrorists, resulted to the death of some 14 persons and injuring, some seriously, over 40 others.

When it was allowed to reopen years later those who patronized the establishments thereat appeared to have difficulty in doing away with the gory pictures of mangled bodies of the dead. Some claimed to still smell the stench of blood that have spelt on the ground.

But for lack of affordable open space facility to cater to the need of nocturnal denizens, the Roxas night market slowly but surely regained its footing; thanks to the patronage of the people and the support of the city leadership under Mayor Sara.

Up until last February this year, the local government’s concern was safety and security of the people going to the area. And all this is because of the unforgettable and traumatic experience that the September 2, 2016 bomb attack brought to the local government authorities.

It was clear then that the convergence of people at the night market area could be a magnet for terrorists to undertake the actualization of their fanatical and lunatic view of things. That was why the local government made sure then that police and other law enforcement agents’ presence in the area became a mandated “must.”

Thank God, no such second attack happened. Probably the terrorists would not hazard second guessing of their own safety from being arrested or even killed by government agents. The reality though, is that attacks by men of such mindsets are usually done in some most unexpected places and time. Yes, terrorist attacks can happen in Churches, in public markets, on fully loaded vehicles like buses and trains.

In the case of the Roxas Night Market, when it was reopened after the September 2 bombing, its vulnerability to such a dastardly act was hugely diminished. The security measure put in place by the police on orders from the City Mayor was quite elaborate.

Unfortunately, at the onset of the current year, there were already reports emanating from the World Health Organization (WHO) warning the governments of the world that the Wuhan, China-originated deadly Coronavirus Disease could become a pandemic that could hit all the countries, the Philippines included, of course.

So when it was apparent that CoViD 19 was already in the country and started infecting at a rapid pace a huge number of people, the national government imposed large-scale Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ). It ordered massive area lockdowns resulting in restrictions in movement of people.

Towards the dying days of the month of March this year, Davao City and the rest of Southern Mindanao were placed in ECQ.  Davao City being the center of the regional economic activities and having the most number of people was immediately placed in lockdown. Businesses have to temporarily stop operation. People were ordered to stay home and group activities such as parties, conferences, religious gatherings like masses and community worship, and others were strictly prohibited by the national government; all because these are likely to cause rapid transmission of the virus from one person to another.

The CoViD 19 pandemic was even more than a bomb detonated at the Roxas Night market area. The only difference is that there is no mass loss in lives, no one is maimed and not a whiff of human blood smelled.

All that is left of the night market scene is an empty space on Roxas Avenue when night time comes.

And despite some private and public vehicles using the road stretch as part of their routes, up until last week’s reopening the night market site, an ambiance of economic gloom and uncertainty still hang.

Mayor Sara however, is no pessimist. She is quite vocal in her belief that the Roxas Night Market will be back soon to its glory days. So she committed her full support to the stall owners as well as those who patronize whatever is made available in terms of human gastronomic needs and other physical services.

But of course, knowing too well that the deadly virus is still very much prevalent in the city, the mayor also issued a stern warning for everyone to fully comply with existing health protocols. And this warning is not only directed to patrons but to the vendors and service providers as well.

The lady mayor was emphatic in her reminder that her allowing the re-opening of the night market should not be taken to mean that the city can now afford to relax its guard against the deadly pandemic.

It is our take that the move of the local government is one measure to help the city’s economy to slowly be back on its feet.

It is also the local government’s way of allowing a recuperation of the people’s altered way of life in the last seven months of the CoViD 19 pandemic.

Of course we can still see that the mayor finds the need to maintain the presence of law enforcers in the night market vicinity. She knows only too well that there is a need to monitor strict compliance of health protocols as much as there is urgency to secure the place from possible attacks by terrorists and other people with criminal minds.

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