By Ermin Garcia Jr.
OVER the past week, it was not difficult to see the relax mood of residents in Pangasinan, particularly in Dagupan City, notwithstanding the continued implementation of the Enhanced Community Quarantine in the province.
With people freely moving around barangays and commercial areas, one would have thought what we have in Pangasinan is a General Community Quarantine, not ECQ!
It appears our local government officials and police already think that given the decline in the numbers of our confirmed COVID-19 cases, it is time to relax our enforcement. That’s a very dangerous mindset since it only takes one undetected virus carrier to push us back to square one!
It is this mindset that made Cebu City an overnight epicenter for COVID-19 cases, already approximating the numbers of Quezon City and Manila. The sudden increase in cases in that city can only be explained by one factor: the communities in Cebu City naively believed the virus can’t reach their city, which is hundreds of miles away from Luzon island, hence did not bother to enforce the ECQ protocol in the city.
How wrong they were, and now they have to pay for their petty folly.
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STRICT IMPLEMENTATION. If there are facts that we all should not ever forget, these are: 1) COVID-19 is here to stay. It will not vanish at anytime. 2) The symptoms will remain and a case cannot be easily confirmed unless tested. 3) The risks of dying within days if not treated remain. 4) Seniors and children are most vulnerable to infection 5). There is still no universal protocol to treat COVID-19. 6) The ranks of our medical frontliners are already depleted and facilities are never enough in case of an unexpected outbreak in a barangay.
Our local governments must call out the ECQ enforcers, from the barangays-up to begin strictly implementing the ECQ protocol again. If the prevailing relax situation indicates anything, it is that fact that the risks of virus infection have not sunk in fully in us.
Our people have already forgotten the plea of our medical frontliners to “Stay Home.”.
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FAKE PRESS FREEDOM CAUSE. The brouhaha over the sudden shutdown of ABS-CBN has distracted attention away from the ongoing fight vs. COVID-19. Suddenly, the closure of the network was deemed a crisis of its own all because of the wide publicity generated by the PR launched by ABS-CBN last year.
What was lost in the din of the uproar were the facts that led to ABS-CBN’s misfortune because of its own doing.
It was definitely not about curtailment of press freedom that ABS-CBN bandied from the onset of its campaign to have its renewal application approved. This was already discredited and established (and yes proven) by ABS-CBN itself a day after the shutdown was ordered. Note that ABS-CBN managed to shift its news coverage, reports and programs to internet platforms within 24 hours from the time it “signed off “ last Monday! If there was curtailment of freedom, it couldn’t have been able to accomplish that set-up within hours.
What ABS-CBN succeeded to do with its massive PR campaign was to cover up its failed attempts to get its application for the renewal of its franchise since 2014 approved when it first filed its application.
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ABS-CBN’S COVER UP. Why did it fail? ABS-CBN insisted on its strategy to include services that were not included in the original franchise. It was this particular attempt that the federation of cable companies vehemently objected to, and with legal basis. Indeed, how can one seek a renewal for something that was not provided in the franchise? Instead of a filing for new franchises for the added services, ABS-CBN was bent on taking the shorter route – have it approved in the renewed franchise – an illegal process.
PNoy was the president at the time and obviously the management of ABS-CBN thought that it enjoyed the unequivocal support from an Aquino administration that it fully supported since Cory era. But there were some political differences with PNoy at the time, so PNoy turned his back on ABS-CBN, using the objectionable portions in the application as the reason.
This forced ABS-CBN to withdraw its application and obviously decided to wait for a friendlier Roxas administration that it knew would blindly direct the renewal given the support it would provide for his presidential campaign. Alas, it was not to be and worse, DU30 who won, would not forget the dirty trick ABS-CBN did on him.
Consequently, ABS-CBN resorted to an unprecedented massive PR campaign for its franchise’s renewal using the press freedom as its anchor. It took in senators, congressmen, catholic bishops, media outfits and organizations, entertainment talents as talking heads for its cause. It wanted to force the hand of the DU30 administration to approve the new franchise with all the objectionable clauses.
To cut to the chase, after DU30 accepted ABS-CBN’s apology, ABS-CBN turned the pressure on Speaker Alan Cayetano. But Cayetano would not be bamboozled to give the franchise on a silver platter knowing that there are formal objections that Congress need to hear, validate and for ABS-CBN to defend itself. Hence, he arranged for future congressional deliberations with NTC after tackling the priorities demanded by the 2020 budget, ASEAN Games hosting, Taal Volcano eruption and finally the COVID-19.
So whether or not the franchise will still be granted is now up to the Supreme Court. Curiously, ABS-CBN still submitted a petition still using press freedom as the main issue after it has proven it didn’t encounter curtailment of press freedom even after it was forced to shut down by NTC. Is it possible that the SC justices could not see though that?
I hope our Pangasinan congressmen are made aware of this background and would not simply push for the granting of the franchise without any deliberation.
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