CHARLOTTE, North Carolina—As I write this, President Rodrigo Duterte had yet to make official confirmation of so-called ‘enhanced community quarantine’ in Metro Manila and the rest of Luzon in order to contain the spread of the COVID-19. Again as I write this, the number of COVID-19 cases rose to 140 and the death toll is now at 12 and anyone in the communication business knows the numbers will fluctuate higher or lower whichever is the case.
What is clear for now at least in Cagayan de Oro City is that there is NO LOCAL TRANSMISSION of the secondary kind and that Patient 40 who died at the Northern Mindanao Medical Center (NMMC) is not from the city but someone who worked in Pasig and went to Lanao province before being admitted to an Iligan City hospital for severe acute respiratory infection.
Thanks to the doctors there, Patient 40 was tested and he had the misfortune of testing positive for SARS-COV 2, the causative agent for the now dreaded COVID-19 or coronavirus 2019, the year It was discovered. During Monday morning’s (March 16) press briefing at the mayor’s conference room, Mayor Oscar Moreno assumed responsibility for the victim’s burial at the Bolonsiri public cemetery in Barangay Camanan-an, saying all precautions were taken and the wishes of the victim’s family honored with a simple burial out of respect for their Islamic beliefs.
Like any Kagay-anon or Misamisnon—I was born in Tagoloan town and spent a good chunk of my media career in Cagayan de Oro City—I kept tabs through friends and social media contacts about the contingency measures undertaken by the Moreno administration at Cagayan de Oro City Hall to protect the city from COVID-19 and based on what the mayor said and what his administration had done so far, it is quite good to say the least.
I also saw the negative comments which can turn downright nasty against Mayor Moreno’s decision not to impose a lockdown on the city and he acknowledged this social media bashing yet admirably stood his ground believing that his decisions and policies will ultimately be beneficial to Kagay-anons. I hope to God that it will be so.
It’s quite easy for these armchair experts to make shout outs in social media, deriding and downright insulting Mayor Moreno for his reluctance to declare a lockdown in the city. But let’s not resort to the all-too-common caveat cited by parochial traditional politicians whose decisions are questioned by their critics by telling these naysayers ‘mag-mayor sa muna kayo (you run first for mayor).’
Rather let us at first sift through the posts to determine if there is any wisdom or shred of evidence that would support the argument for a lockdown and based on what I read, the only common reason they came up with is that other local governments are doing it, why not Cagayan de Oro? And surprise, surprise, these pro-lockdown proponents expect the city government to provide them food and other essentials straight to their doorsteps for at least three to four days or however long this COVID-19 crisis will last.
Am thinking aloud, how much would it cost the city government to actually do what these lockdown supporters want, nay demand and expect? The city government has a P7 billion budget allocated for 2020 and the funds are appropriated for a host of concerns like peace and order, education, infrastructure and so on. The city has 700,000 plus city residents so can the city government afford to do this? These critics should do the math if only to support their argument.
In fact they should do more than math, they should produce incontrovertible, undisputable evidence that would justify a total or even partial lockdown of Cagayan de Oro City. In fact what Mayor Moreno is doing right now and which I fully support, is mitigation. And please, trolls and pro-lockdown proponents, post something more useful than screaming social media posts and actually help the medical staff, doctors and nurses that are at the frontline making sure that COVID-19 won’t infect any city resident.
Am I making it clear that it’s not easy for Mayor Moreno to make these decisions, unpopular though it may be to the rest of the city populace? I understand the fear and sentiments since I also have family living in Cagayan de Oro but as Mayor Moreno said, closing the city’s borders will dislocate the patients from other parts of northern Mindanao who have sought or are already undergoing treatment for other ailments as well as shut down government offices in the city who service other constituents outside of Cagayan de Oro.
I understand that the city government will extend some assistance to the daily wage, ‘no work, no pay’ workers whose livelihood will be affected by the temporary closure of malls that Moreno ordered as a mitigation measure. And other mitigation measures that include the temporary suspension of the night markets, a 10 pm-5 am curfew starting on March 17 and continued operation of essential businesses, such as supermarkets, grocery stores, even food outlets that can serve their customers in their premises or encourage them to order takeout instead.
I could continue to argue my points but I’m too tired to justify them to those people who are adamantly close minded in their belief that a lockdown will solve the city’s problems on COVID-19. What I do want to say is that Cagayan de Oro City residents should not panic and let these naysayers cause them to take drastic action that they will surely regret.
It is by God’s grace that these pro lockdown proponents are not holding the reins of power at City Hall lest they do something that will screw up everyone in the city, a predicament we can ill afford. For once, let’s get our heads straight, focus on keeping COVID-19 out of the city by staying at home, keeping ourselves clean and supporting our health workers. It is time for to be resilient. God bless us all (For questions and comments please email at firstname.lastname@example.org)