How will they survive?
By Leonardo Micua
A MAN in his 40s, in shabby polo shirt and looked as if he has not shaven for months, knocked on our gate and begged for food or money. He motioned to me as if he knew me when I approached him. I recognized him as one of those who owns a tri-bike I used to ride whenever I left the house in the morning. He was accompanied by a man riding a tri-bike, sporting a t-shirt with the word “LiFe” printed on it.
“Pahingi ng konting tulong, sir. Pagkain o pambili ng pagkain.,” he moaned as he stretched out his open right palm to me. Knowing we had little food in the fridge, I reached for some pesos in my right pocket and I gave them to him. He was so thankful and said he can finally buy bread for breakfast.
His companion then told me that tri-bikers like them can no longer ferry passengers to the highway and were told to stay home. He added that nobody had the nerve to question the order even if they knew they it could mean the end of their only livelihood, that it meant hunger for them and to their families.
“Sabi nila kasi may virus, sir,” said the man who asked for money. ”Lahat po kami natakot”, he added. “Paano na kami mabubuhay ngayon, sir”, he asked. “Baka mauna kaming matodas sa gutom kaysa doon sa virus.”
I told them to relax because the government is protecting the interests of all Filipinos, not just the interests of a few.
There are many like them in Dagupan who have been sidelined because of COVID-19. I told them it is best for us all to obey. Then the thought that President Digong had delegated LGUs to provide food for their constituents on quarantine came to mind. Without LGUs’ help, I cannot imagine how they can survive the enhanced community quarantine that ends on April 12.
A pandesal vendor from Longos who delivers bread to us daily told me that tricycle drivers still carry passengers risking being caught because they need to earn to be able to buy food for their families.
It has been four days into the quarantine and my neighbor said still no food has reached them in their homes. But didn’t President Duterte proclaim a state of calamity for the whole of Luzon also, so LGUs can tap the quick reaction fund from their Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund to buy food for their quarantined constituents?
Both Mayor Brian and Mr. Erfe-Mejia finally arrived on March 13 from a trip to the US, but they are now on a 14-day self-quarantine as required by the DOH protocol.
This could be the reason why the promised food assistance hasn’t reached the impoverished Dagupeños. Or could it be because of red tape at the city hall? I was told that it could take a month before a transaction gets a purchase order from the Bids and Awards Committee.
So we ask: “Aanhin pa ang damo kung patay na ang kabayo”.
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The report of the Provincial Health Office (PHO) that there are close to 40,000 Persons Under Monitoring (PUMs) in Pangasinan as of Thursday is alarming. To think that most came from the National Capital Region, where confirmed cases of COVID-19 are highest, should make us all nervous if not edgy.
I heard that many of them are the locals working or studying in Manila who managed to leave Manila before a community quarantine was put in effect, and therefore, were not accosted by checkpoints. Gov. Amado Espino III foresaw the deluge of people streaming into Pangasinan so he issued an executive order mandating all barangay captains to check and account for new arrivals in their areas so they can be quarantined for 14-days.
Unless all the PUMs complete their quarantine under strict monitoring by barangay health workers, city/municipal health offices, we cannot be sure if we can remain COVID-19-free any longer.
By the way, thanks to the Provincial Information Office for keeping a daily update on COVID-19 situation in Pangasinan in the social media.
One George Smith posted: “Thank you for the constant diligence on the matter. The people of Pangasinan are grateful”.
As of Wednesday night, the COVID-19 update of Pangasinan PIO earned 2,400 likes, 146 comments and 1,100 shares. In this emergency, there should be a free flow of information such as this. PIO is surely doing the job that it supposed to do. Congratulations.
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