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ROUGH CUTS | This ordinance could be ‘exclusionary’, ‘oppressive’

 

 

 

Vic N. Sumalinog

WE are certain that the leadership of Davao City may have already realized that the series of Executive Orders issued to make Davaoenos comply with the restrictions in the various health protocols to fight the pandemic have not been fully effective. Why, because despite the mayor’s order the city has even become more prominent in terms of the number of new COVID-19 infections over the last three months already.
In fact, while the national figure of new cases has been declining daily over the last ten days, Davao City was, for several times during the same period, at the number one slot in the figure of new infections. On days when it was not on the top, the city has remained in the list of the leading five areas with new CoViD infections. It was only last Wednesday that we did not see Davao City in the Top 5 list. Instead, it was substituted by another area in the Davao Region – the province of Davao del Norte being in the third spot of the ranking.
This failure of the EOs to attain its primary purpose has somehow pushed the mayor to add more teeth to the mandate itself. And she is doing this by dumping away the specific EO that mandates the use of the Food and Medicine Pass and have it substituted with a City Ordinance.
Yes, when the use of the FM pass is a primary subject of an ordinance it carries with it the required teeth to make everything mandated thereat complied. How? Well, for every provision violated there is a corresponding penalty that could range from the payment of fines to imprisonment for a specific period of time depending on the gravity of the violation. And there is the clear difficulty of questioning the ordinance unless those accused of violation have the money and time to go to the courts to look into its legality.
As of last Tuesday, the City Council of Davao had already approved the proposed FM Pass ordinance on first reading. And according to first district Councilor Mabel Sunga Acosta, principal sponsor of the proposed ordinance, her committee will conduct a series of public hearings to ensure that the proposed measure is discussed as widely as possible by representatives of various stakeholders in the Davao society.
For now, many Davaoenos do not have any idea of what will finally come out of the proposed FM Pass Ordinance. But even if we are aware that the local legislation is supposed to protect the health of the people in this time of a raging global health pandemic, it cannot be denied that in the process there will be sectors of society that will be placed in a disadvantaged situation.
One possible provision that could make the ordinance exclusionary and even oppressive is the reported granting of the FM Pass only to residents of the city with ages from 18 to 65. Clearly, this would mean that a significant number of the city’s population will not anymore be given the pass and by application, the sector members cannot anymore get out of the confines of their residences or its compound.
In this case, the seniors 65 years and over, become prisoners in their own abode. And if we have to consider the fragile physical condition of the people who belong to this sector, the implementation of such an ordinance, if indeed the age bracket for those who will be issued the FM Pass is from 18 to 65, it is as if they are being shoved to the “torture chamber.” Clearly, that makes the ordinance oppressive and exclusionary.
We can only hope that those who are crafting the FM Pass measure will not miss seeing this possible major weakness in the planned local legislation. We are also looking forward to the councilors not skipping the issue of the timeline of the effectivity of the ordinance in its final version. That is, that its life shall terminate once the CoViD 19 pandemic is officially declared as over by the World Health Organization and the Department of Health.

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Maybe it was only last week that we wrote in this space about the novel project jointly implemented by the Provincial Government of Davao del Norte under Gov. Edwin Hubahib, and the Philippine National Police (PNP) Regional Office XI.
We were referring to the construction of houses for the Lumads or native tribes from Talaingod who were herded at the Haran compound of the Brokenshire College along Fr. Selga st. in downtown Davao City. Reports have it that they have long been raring to go back to their upland village. Unfortunately, the years of their absence allowed nature and the alleged vandalism of some of their fellow natives and the members of the rebel group New People’s Army (NPA), their houses already deteriorated or were intentionally destroyed.
Thus, the primary need for them to return is to have houses where their families can go home and live and start their new lives again. Seeing this need the provincial government of Davao del Norte responded by providing funds to construct new houses for the returning Lumads from Haran. The PNP XI offered their manpower to build the houses. So, some 116 policemen readily volunteered to go to the secluded area and started the build ignoring threats of possible harassments by the NPA rebels.
If the timetable was not altered by any unnecessary incident, the likelihood is that by this time, the more than a hundred houses for the returning natives may have already been completed and ready for occupancy. Our congratulations.

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And here is another unprecedented project involving policemen in that province. This time the cops are those assigned at the Tagum City Police Office under P/Lt. Col.Jed Clamor.
The youthful police official has organized a team from his station to mobilize resources for a feeding program for malnourished children in Barangay Libuganon, Tagum City.
Lt. Col. Clamor somehow might have realized that policemen should not only confine themselves to fighting the battle against criminality but at certain times they have to wage war against an unlikely criminal; the one that could lead children to grow up committing crimes even at their young age – poor physical and mental health due to malnutrition.
With Clamor’s feeding program his team is already starting to pre-empt growth of future problems of society even before they could evolve.
With these two initiatives involving the police organization, we cannot help but recall the community programs launched by the Davao City Police Office during the watch of P/Col. John Michael Dubria that brought policemen closer to the community they serve, and even to the confines of the homes for the elderly, they who are forgotten, deliberately or not, by their own family members.
It’s been a long time since we last heard of the former DCPO director. We hope he is harnessed well by the national police command. If he is not and just assigned in some insignificant positions, then he is one PNP asset wasted.

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