By January 19, 2021Opinion, Punchline

When people talk about the walk

By Ermin Garcia Jr.


THE reported surge in Pangasinan is easily blamed on the holidays, relaxed curfew, resumption of gambling particularly cockfights, etc. However, no amount of excuses or reimposition of stricter measures will result in better numbers if not backed by strict enforcement.

The bottom line is, there was a surge because there was no strict enforcement of the health and distancing protocol anywhere. We could have weekly holidays, relaxed curfew and still have controlled contagion if the two protocols are strictly enforced.

People are obviously not aware of strict enforcement in the town because residents are not talking about it. Since nobody is talking about it, no mayor can claim he or she is strictly enforcing the protocols.

What will make people aware about strict enforcement? They become aware only when they hear of people being hauled to the plaza every day for a half day lecture and 2 hours community service, before paying fines.

People will talk about their neighbors who were brought to the plaza yesterday and others before them especially when radio stations report on the number of persons arrested for non-compliance, and pictures and stories are posted on Facebook every day. These situations will guarantee 100% awareness and reinforce the need to comply with the protocols.

With talks about strict enforcement spreading like wildfire in towns, we can soon see neighbors calling out each other, warning of strict enforcement by the local government and barangays if they are seen not wearing face masks and shields and are not keeping a distance from each other in public.

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IS DAGUPAN CITY IRRELEVANT? The claims of the representative and opinion of the Office of General Corporate Counsel, justifying the legality of the joint venture that the Dagupan City Water District (DCWD) entered into with Pamana Water, beg more questions than answers.  

The OGCC counsel cited everything legal in the book except for three things: 

  1. It never acknowledged that DCWD is operated under the jurisdiction of the Dagupan City government.
  2. It didn’t mention any action, review or evaluation by the City Legal Officer or the Office of the City Mayor or the Sangguniang Panlungsod.
  3. It did not acknowledge that DCWD and Pamana had a meeting with the local stakeholders (customers, barangay officials, etc.), concessionaires. It simply presumed it by stating that it is “advantageous and beneficial to the overall operations of DCWD, its concessionaires, stakeholders and employees.”

Therefore, I dare say that everything that the OGCC cited were irrelevant to the city government and residents but everything relevant to those who inked the midnight deal. The counsel only described the paperwork done but cited nothing about reactions of the city government and its populace to the agreement.

The mere fact that the land occupied by the DCWD is owned by the city government, all the directors are appointed by the city mayor, its customers are residents of the city, then corporate actions of DCWD’s are perforce subject to review by the city government.  

Also, the mere opinion of OGCC does not make the agreement legal.  There is a court that gives its imprimatur, not the OGCC, if questioned. 

Meanwhile, I note that neither Mayor Brian Lim nor his City Administrator Vlad Mata, was heard to have protested being bypassed and ignored by the DCWD and Pamana. Neither resented the fact that the agreement made the city government appear it had no say whatsoever in the negotiations. (Curiously, not even a single councilor also noted the lack of transparency (irregularity?) in the process, the city government being a stakeholder).  

Or was there already a tacit “understanding” among all of them to keep quiet? For what consideration? 

Lest Mayor Brian forgets, the signed joint venture was accomplished during his term, and he, as mayor, must be accountable for whatever could be the outcome of the venture. He cannot choose to defend his inaction by pointing to the fact that all the board directors were appointed by his predecessor, not by him. He could do this if he had filed an administrative complaint against members of the DCWD board for failing to consult the city government. But the mayor has not filed any complaint or protest… so you are on notice, Mayor Brian.  

So, the buck stops on your desk, Mayor Brian. The appointment Red Erfe-Mejia and Atty. Januario Ragudo to the board confirms your accountability.

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WHAT EFFICACY CAN MEAN TO YOU. Thankfully, both the national government and local governments are talking about the arrival and the roll out of vaccines in the country, except for one thing.

While most everyone are also talking about the level of efficacy of each vaccine being recommended or touted by various sectors, nobody cares to explain the significance of the different levels of efficacy of the vaccines.

Only one thing appears to be presumed: the higher the % of the efficacy, the more effective it is. But wait, why do countries like Singapore, Indonesia, etc. prefer a lower level of efficacy? Is there something that Pinoys should know about that we don’t know or are not told about?

So, let me attempt to explain the benefits of both high and lower efficacy.

First, let’s go into the definition of a vaccine: it’s a substance used to stimulate the production of antibodies and provide immunity against one or several diseases, prepared from the causative agent of a disease, its products, or a synthetic substitute, treated to act as an antigen without inducing the disease. (Underscoring by me).

So, in layman’s terms, the vaccine pumps a large amount of virus into our body so we can be immunized.

So, if a vaccine has high (90+) efficacy, it means a large volume of the virus is inoculated and can instantly immune a body’s system. However, a person’s system may react negatively if he has other illnesses or diseases in the body system. This is why varied side effects to the body occur due to the vaccine.

If, on the other hand, a vaccine simply meets the minimum standard set by WHO, it means the vaccine has enough efficacy to protect one against the virus. While it provides enough protection against possible infection, the occurrence of a side effect is minimal because the vaccine still allows the person’s natural immune system to complement the vaccine’s effect.

Back to the government’s vaccination policy, while no citizen can choose brand of vaccine since allotment is not defined by health data in the area, a citizen has the right not to have the offered vaccine because of the high efficacy that can result in unknown side effects.

China’s Sinovac levels at 75% efficacy while Phizer and the rest are at 90+ efficacy.  Perhaps, knowing and understanding why Chinese medicines are known to be effective, it’s easy to accept that Sinovac vaccines are just as effective. Besides, wasn’t it a Chinese medicine that stopped COVID infection? Ask George Cham, Bongbong Marcos, etc.

So there, the choice is yours.

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