Charlotte, North Carolina—Good day to you dear readers, I sincerely hope that all of you are doing well at your homes as each one of us around the world are on mandated ‘staycation mode’ while our governments and their health personnel wage war against the unseen enemy that is COVID-19.
As I write this, I had just finished my online broadcast on Monday (March 23 Philippine time) at 105.5 Bay Radio FM Way Kurat, the radio station based in Balingasag town in which I talked about whether sex is safe in the time of COVID-19 (it is unsafe based the on global health guidelines requiring social distancing). Truly this virus which came from Communist China had upended the lives of everyone on this planet, including my husband Ronnie and I who had to take extra care of ourselves being senior citizens.
It also took me a week to see for myself how Cagayan de Oro City Hall under Mayor Oscar Moreno’s administration had responded to this global health crisis and I can say that, pending a major development, that the mayor and his allies had done quite the remarkable job of keeping COVID-19 out of the city.
Let us repeat one fact that the mayor’s most malicious and vicious critics as well as those that either are too panicked that they can’t think straight or those with a hidden agenda—yes, there are still those who think of gaining political brownie points in this time of a global health crisis—conveniently ignore and bury under their mountain of fake news, social media bashing and unfounded, noisy demands for a citywide lockdown: there is NO LOCAL TRANSMISSION OF COVID-19 IN CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY SO FAR, based on the latest findings by the Department of Health (DOH-10) and the City Health Office.
What is being done right now by the Moreno administration is intensified preemptive, preventive measures aimed at keeping everyone in Cagayan de Oro City, including those heading to the city’s hospitals for treatment of ailments other than respiratory illnesses that could lead to COVID-19, such as dialysis and even therapy.
Hence the temporary closure of malls and non-essential businesses such as movie theaters which can draw large crowds who are at risk of infection, a 10 pm to 5 a.m curfew and opening of essential services like grocery stores, supermarkets, hospitals, clinics, convenience stores and restaurants and food outlets that offer takeout in order to encourage people to stay at home.
Yes, the main point of these intensive, preemptive, preventive measures as Mayor Moreno kept repeating in his daily press briefings at the mayor’s conference room, is to compel people to stay at home and avoid for the meantime unnecessary activities that would expose them to the very real risk of COVID-19 infection.
At the same time, Mayor Moreno displayed not only calm, but courage guided by wisdom in implementing a calibrated response to the global health threat of COVID-19 by allowing people to still enter and leave the city provided they are screened and processed at the checkpoints, seaports and Laguindingan airport and declared safe by health personnel to enter or stop over at the city’s borders.
Moreno’s wisdom and grace under pressure was prominently displayed in his decision to allow a boatload of passengers who were turned away at a seaport in Nasipit town, Agusan del Norte province to dock at the Macabalan port where they were immediately examined and declared safe by health workers.
About 491 passengers of MV St. Francis Xavier were declared safe for travel to eastern Mindanao where they were headed to after coming from Manila, where most of the COVID-19 cases had originated. The passengers rode in buses and were advised to undergo a two-week home quarantine just to be on the safe side.
In deciding to allow the Ro-Ro vessel to dock at Macabalan port, Mayor Moreno cited humanitarian grounds as basis and this incident merely showed to everyone not only Mayor Moreno’s wisdom but his character as both public official and as a person. Any other public official of lesser or zero substance would have panicked and turned these passengers away.
When news broke out about this incident, one idiot in social media who I will not name for his sake questioned why the passengers were not quarantined inside the vessel for two weeks. This idiot apparently expected both the city government and the vessel owner to feed and maintain all 491 passengers during their imposed quarantine.
In fact, I can only describe as idiotic the demand by not a few Cagayan de Oro City based netizens for a citywide lockdown which Mayor Moreno pointed out time and again would make life difficult for outsiders seeking medical assistance in the city. The demand is driven mostly by their expectation that government will bring essentials like food right at their doorsteps.
Last time I checked, Cagayan de Oro City Hall allocated a P7.5 billion budget for 2020 and owing to these extraordinary times, the city government is well-advised to use the funds judiciously including the allocation of calamity funds. It won’t surprise me if that P7.5 billion budget would be depleted in a few months if the city does decide to bring essentials to the city’s entire 750,000 population.
But enough of the critics who don’t have the complete picture of the city’s situation in relation to the countrywide quarantine. Suffice it to say that these critics should produce incontrovertible, unimpeachable evidence to justify a citywide lockdown and not just their laughably pathetic alibi that Cagayan de Oro City should impose a lockdown because other local governments are doing it.