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ROUGH CUTS | Insensitivity is the name

Vic N. Sumalinog

EARLY this week we went to a branch of a well-known universal bank for one particular transaction.
Like all other business establishments, the bank branch is also implementing the health protocols mandated by the government in its efforts to stem the 9-month-old Corona Virus Disease 19 (COViD 19) pandemic.
There are posters on its walls reminding clients to observe social distancing, to wear mask and face shield, to fill up health disclosure form, have body temperature taken, and have their Davao QR Code scanned.
Nevertheless, we have observed quite clearly that despite the bank management’s reminders, the establishment appears to be oblivious to the situation of their clients while waiting for their turn to get inside the bank.
It was about 10:10 when we arrived at the bank location not far from a leading public market. There was little drizzle even as the sun was shining brightly. Upon our arrival, we noticed that there were already a good number of people waiting to get inside. And it was clear that the social distancing mandate was far from being followed.
For how could that particular protocol be complied with when the clients have to crowd under the shade of a small canopy standing or sitting on the protruding cement? We, and several others who came after us, had to stand directly under the blistering heat of the sun and the drizzle. And there were about six of us in that situation.
Since the wait to get inside the bank was long enough many of those outside were already complaining. We were just lucky that a young man who had with him an umbrella but was able to find space in the congested shade of the canopy, offered us his heat protection tool. We thanked him for the generous gesture as we accepted his umbrella.
It was in the midst of that situation at the bank premises that we overheard quite loudly one woman saying that the management of the bank branch is so insensitive to the needs of its clients.
We readily agreed to her protestation. Why, because as we looked around there was not a single chair provided for the waiting clients to sit. The management also seemed clueless about the absence of even just a tent or two so as to provide the clients with protection from both the rain and the heat of the sun while waiting outside.
We could only shake our head in dismay. Yes, we could not imagine the management of the said bank to have not noticed the situation outside of the financial institution’s comfort zone. We know the bank owners are known for their consciousness of their stakeholders’ needs. They own one of the country’s top corporate conglomerates and the bank is one under the financial group.
We were able to get inside the bank after an hour and ten minutes of waiting. And our transaction inside did not even take twenty minutes!
Upon our way back home we passed by a much smaller bank located at the corners of Pelayo and Rizal street. To our awe, we saw several tents installed outside provided with chairs where the clients were seated. And that bank was far from comparable to the financial establishment that we went to on that particular day.
And all the time that we were then working with the sister company of the said bank, we were always reminded that the conglomerate members’ personnel must at all times be “customer friendly.” Really?
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We commiserate with the resort owners in the Island Garden City of Samal (IGaCoS) for the potential huge losses of their businesses even as they were just starting to re-open operation as a result of the downgrading to Modified General Community Quarantine of the island tourist destination.
Reports have it that the resort owners had sunk in more money to make their establishments compliant with the anti-COViD 19 protocols. And as their operating schemes are slowly adjusted expecting a much decrease number of customers comes the return of the General Community Quarantine status of Davao City, which mandates a much stricter implementation of restrictions in people movement and activities.
And while Samal is not part of Davao City, its primary industry, which is tourism, stands badly affected by the restrictions in the mainland city. Yes, it is because all tourists going to the island have to pass by the mainland city
Because of the strict implementation of the protocols, IGaCoS mayor Al David Uy is confirming claims of resort owners that several bookings earlier made by travel agencies have already been cancelled.
Mayor Uy, though he admitted that the stoppage of resort operations could also hurt his city financially, says he cannot do anything to prevent the owners from doing so. Mandating them to operate in a losing proposition will only exacerbate the downfall of the island city’s main economic activity.
Indeed, who would even think that Davao City, the leading metropolis of the south and considered as the premiere wellness hub in Mindanao could become an example of social instability as a consequence of the health pandemic?
And the impact of the seemingly unimpeded spike in the CoViD cases in the city is rubbing in on its neighboring localities like IGaCoS. What an unfortunate situation!

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