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One tough question, one simple answer

Vic N. Sumalinog

LAST Saturday Davao City was back on the top of the list of five cities and provinces having registered the most number of new Corona Virus Disease (CoViD) 19 cases. It has been in the list over the last two weeks.
Because of this consistent record of the city many are asking: What is happening; what’s going on with the response scheme adopted by the local government that instead of slowing down the infection rate it is even getting worst by the day? And this is happening despite the issuance of several Executive Orders (EOs) by the city mayor all geared towards deterring the transmission of the deadly virus!
Indeed it is one question that can easily be comparable to a nut which is a “tough one to crack.” Even the national government through the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) has already pitched in its idea to help the city’s leadership in stemming the up-tide of the virus.
The national government which, incidentally, is under the leadership of the former Davao City mayor and father of incumbent Mayor Inday Sara Duterte-Carpio, has sent in re-enforcement medical personnel to augment the manpower of the city’s tertiary hospital catering primarily to CoViD 19 patients.
Also, the leadership of the Philippine National Police (PNP) sent an augmentation force to help police front liners in enforcing the various health protocols in designated areas. And all these happened early last week. Apparently however, the result of their presence is somewhat far from sight. And the numbers of new cases reported are the documented proofs of the infamy.
In our previous columns we intimated that one cause of the low compliance of the protocols is the possible lack of effective communication strategy to reach out to the people. We also have the notion that the messaging could be sending ambivalent signals to the point that the people could be wondering how they could comply.
We could cite one example of messaging from the city that has likely sent many Davao City residents scratching their heads to understand. Take this one” “Save Money; Save Lives; Stay Home.” In its Cebuano version it says: “Pagtigom ug kwarta; Pagluwas ug mga kinabuhi; Pagpuyo sa balay.”
How can one save money if there is no way he/she can earn money to save? How can one save other people’s lives if he or she cannot find money to buy his/her own needs to nourish his/her body to boast immunity against the dreaded virus?
Yes, the economy has been re-opened with the downgrading of the quarantine category level of the city. But only a few industries and businesses have gone back to operation at its limited capacity. Thus, an establishment would be lucky enough if it operation level is capable of allowing 50 percent of its work force to report back to duty.
One example of livelihood that has been totally crippled with the current crisis and its attendant restrictions is the lights, sounds and events organizing business. Prior to the pandemic those engaged in the said trade are booked almost on a daily basis. On the average, each light, sounds and events organizing business employs from three to six people. All of them are sidelined for the last ten months already. And in addition to their loss of income many of them are still amortizing costly equipment. Now they are being threatened with replevin suits by suppliers who are like them, also hard-up under the pandemic regime.
On the farmers’ situation we are somewhat hesitant to tackle it as an issue. We are also a small time farmer. But we cannot help but touch on it. Since the start of the pandemic in the Philippines ten months ago we could hardly remember a time that there were upward movements of farm gate prices of agricultural products like coconut, vegetables, corn, cacao, and more so of rice. On the contrary traders instead kept or even reduce their buying prices for all sorts of reasons. And there is nothing the small farmers can do about it if they do not want to risk their produce to rot in the field or in their bodega.
Meanwhile, prices of finished goods from agricultural products move upwards every so often and by leaps and bounce. And the reason given? It is any of the following: Farmers are not producing enough; the farm gate prices are exorbitant; or that the farmers’ produce are bought in bulk by big time traders and brought to the typhoon and flood ravaged areas in Luzon and the Visayas where these are most needed.
In their case therefore, where will the farmers get money to save when they are not earning enough or not earning at all? How will they save the lives of others including fellow farmers when they themselves are hard-pressed to save their own lives.
And how can the farmers “stay home” while the pandemic is raging when doing such is virtually abandoning their farms to the mercy of nature?
By the way, how much help has the local government given to the people of the city and how often is the assistance given, if any?
We find it odd for the city to boast of having given so much in millions of pesos worth of materials and financial assistance to other local governments affected by the recent typhoons and floods. Why, because we have observed the city maintaining silence and even erratic in its claim on how much it is helping the local residents tie their lives over in this extended health crisis.
We are tempted to surmise that the realization by Davaoenos of the city leadership’s ambivalence in its response to the current crisis had emboldened them to breach many of the protocols. They have to live; they have to survive even if in the process they have to gamble their own safety against CoViD.
Now, should we wonder why the more than two weeks of continuous surge in new CoViD cases in the city?

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