THE WAY I SEE IT | Susan Amoroso
Metro-Manila mayors must get their act together. Curfews, lockdowns and community quarantines must be synchronized as the cities interconnect, intersect and interlock with each other like one big family of roads, bridges, and highways. One city mayor imposed a certain curfew hour while the others do not. What happens to the hapless Juan who needs to travel from one city to another for work, business and personal reasons. Metro-Manila Development Authority chief Benhur Abalos relayed his concern about the situation. He has called out the Covid Inter Agency Task Force (IATF), of which all mayors are members to synchronize the curfew hours. As it is the situation is untenable and counter-productive.
The covid situation in every locality is different from one another but this does not preclude that a local government executive can act on its own without consultation with other mayors with regards to curfew hours especially. Mobility is hampered. Everything suffers when goods and people cannot reach their destination.
The private sector has been adamant and insisting for the economy to open up. Government agencies such as the Department of Finance, the Department of Trade and Industry, the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Tourism have come up with different strategies to help in opening up the economy. Noteworthy is the fact that DTI has announced that small and micro business firms can avail of business loans from P50,000 to P100,000 with a grace period of one year, payable in three years with no interest. I think the local mayors all over the country should mobilize their barangays to inform business owners that there are government programs they can avail to help them recover from the 2020 business losses.
With over P10 Trillion in debts and some 4.5 million that got unemployed in January, don’t you think the country should do away with curfew hours and lockdowns? The problem with government executives is that they seem unfeeling about the economic hardships of the people. While the number of covid infections spiked somewhat, covid deaths did not rise in proportion to the covid cases. Also, economic lockdowns did not stop covid infections. It only resulted in business closures, unemployment and hunger.
A fruit stand stall owner replying to the rising number of covid infections in Pasay and in Quezon City:
I do not believe in business lockdowns and curfews. Not one of us stall owners got infected or died of covid even if we are here in the public market almost 24 hours meeting different kinds of people.” One jeepney passenger said, Look at the beggars on the streets, the street children and street dwellers. They do not even wear masks. They are out on the streets 24/7. I see them everyday and they seem alive and not covid infected.’’
The government has been hankering that when the roll out of covid vaccines start, normalcy follows. The Sinovac vaccine donated by China has rolled out last week and will be followed shortly by the AstraZeneca vaccine in the next few days. However, based on the numbers, the government is having a hard time rolling out the vaccines within the allotted time frame, says Philippine vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. It seems the vaccination program is still facing some resistance, especially among the frontliners — medical personnel, the military and the police. But who can blame them?
The frontliners must not be forced to get vaccinated against their will.
The “Bayanihan’’ spirit must be alive in all of us. Covid response must not be at the expense of the general population who are hurting deeply right now. The IATF and LGUs must not impose sanctions, curfews, lockdowns and travel bans arbitrarily as if they are gods.