Suspension of classes, a wrong mistake

By September 21, 2021Punchline

By Ermin Garcia Jr.


WHY was I not surprised that Dagupan City Mayor Brian Lim was among the first to call for a suspension of the opening of classes for 20 days? The continuous surge in COVID-19 cases in the city government is hardly surprising in the first place.

Dr. Ophelia Rivera, the focal person for COVID response in the city, was candid in her own frustration that nothing much was being done to stop the contagion. She and Councilor Tess Coquia were one in their observation that no one in authority is seeing to the strict enforcement of the minimum health protocols in the city, notwithstanding reports of city hospitals being overwhelmed by the daily increase in numbers of active cases.

Over the past three weeks, the city already noted how Mr. Lim was frantically grasping for alibis to explain the surge to a point where he appeared to be hinting, to the national government to order the city’s lockdown so funds will be allotted to the city. That didn’t work.

To impose a barangay or a neighborhood lockdown was and perhaps is still not an option for him because that would require the city government to provide for basic necessities. I thought that should not be a problem since there was P1 billion in the city’s coffers when he assumed office.

Where’s. all that money?? The city auditor should help explain this to the Dagupeños.

Meanwhile, the city government continues to lament the situation without any real option to offer. But only two things could have happened when Mr. Lim was looking for someone, something to blame: Either he didn’t give instructions to strictly enforce the wearing of masks or he did but nobody gave it any importance.

Mr. Lim can start solving his dilemma from there.

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NOT DELTA’S PROBLEM. To simply blame the entry of the Delta variant is the easiest for anyone who’s not done anything to stop the surge. The IATF already prescribed the guidelines on how to do things but Mr. Lim (and other mayors) didn’t do much except to mouth the same and little else. He issued an executive order like a copy-paste operation with no attempt to make any department head and barangay chairman accountable for the enforcement. Instead, he just reinforced it with photo-op of “inspection” of vaccination site and preparation of facilities.

 The observation months past that the market is the suspected source of daily infection didn’t alarm him at all. The daily movement and arrival of cargo trucks filled with Bulacan bangus into the city did not move the city government to conduct daily monitoring of health status of cargo truck crews.

Worse, there is the latest observation of Dr. Ophelia Rivera that there never was and still no strict enforcement of the wearing of face masks particularly in a place where violation of social distancing is practically unenforceable – the market!

 Mr. Lim doesn’t need to be seen outdoors to check what his subalterns are doing. As any professional manager would do, the output is the measure of achievement or failure of steps taken.

Dr. Rivera’s observation about the market is evidence enough of absence of direction from the city hall.  Even a casual drive through a barangay road and city border checkpoints will show him that no one is overseeing the wearing of face masks. Children are freely running through the streets without face masks in front of their elders, without face masks.

 Surely, Mr. Lim understands that even a Delta variant cannot infect anyone who is well protected with a mask. In fact, one doesn’t need to be a rocket scientist to understand why we are seeing members of households being infected at the same time.

 Clearly, no one in the city is in charge of the prevention task. 24/7. Not the barangay kap or his council, not POSO enforcers, not the police. Certainly not Mr. Lim.

 So, given his mindset that the he has nothing to do with the surge of COVID cases, expect him to suspend the opening of classes again next month when surge of cases is an all-time high.

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MAYORS, KAPITAN TO BLAME. The decision, therefore, of 20 mayors of towns/cities that followed the lead of Mayor Brian Lim – to suspend opening of classes – is most unfortunate, if not pathetic.

It appears the mayors who suspended online classes for 20 days were not aware that they were in effect doing the worst for the children and pandemic – idle children will only be finding every reason to be out of the house to play – where infection is highly possible.

The PUNCH consciously featured pictures in our recent past issues showing children playing in neighborhoods without face masks. It’s the situation that will continue if children are not told to stay home to do their studies.

There is no doubt the level of pandemic in a community will continue but it will not be because of the opening of the classes. In fact, the opposite can be expected. With online  classes going on, children will have no choice but to stay home with their parents.

Teachers and parents will perhaps be more prone to exposure because of some requirements of the classes. But they are adults and are fully aware of the impact and consequences of being careless, not to wear masks outside.

By suspending the classes, the mayors actually only relieved themselves of the pressure to do what’s expected of them. They know the surge in cases is irrelevant. Fortunately, there are still 27 mayors who understood what need to be done, they bit the bullet to spare the communities from suffering the effects of the pandemic further.

Let it be known that a surge will still continue for as long as the mayors and kapitans do not strictly enforce wearing of masks in the neighborhoods! That’s their accountability.

Given this mindset of resorting to cancellation and suspension speaks of the inability of local leaders to cope with challenges of C-19 which is here to stay.  It is leaders like them that will keep our economy laggard and health institutions overwhelmed 24/7.

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REALITIES OF COVID-19. Here’s a post about a family that was badly hit by COVID-19.  It’s a post that is already fast becoming a not so new tragedy shared on Facebook. I hope readers can imbibe this and share this tragedy with relatives if only to help others realize that COVID-19 virus is fatal.

Our Aunt already succumbed to COVID last night, September 14, 2021 .. Kaka forty days lang ng bunsong anak last Sunday, we lost him July 28,2021 .. ang eldest din we lost him last February 25, 2021 .. Tito ko nalang ang natira .. plus anak na babae at mga apo .. My GOD grabe na ang hirap ng pamilya .. Ubos na resources din namin to sustain the needs sa Hospital, Oxygen, Medical Bills .. Sunod2x po ang nawala sa pamilya namin .. Hindi na po ako mahihiya .. Our family is asking for financial help sa mga may kayang tumulong.. 🙏 DIYOS na ang bahalang magbalik sa inyong kagandahang loob .. MARAMING SALAMAT

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IMPLICATING PRRD.  What was earlier announced to be an investigation of the overpriced PPEs by the Senate Blue Ribbon, today’s hearings have become nothing but a fishing expedition to implicate President Duterte to a conspiracy to defraud the government, especially since COA already said there was no overpricing.

I tried to follow the series but I was dismayed by the conduct and the trend of questioning by Senators Dick Gordon, Frank Drilon and Risa Hontiveros. They even delved into how records and communications were done by the Pharmally, the contracted supplier of the PPEs. Without any clear evidence of anomalous transaction, what could the senate hope to achieve?

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