By Leonardo Micua
A day or two before Dagupan was to hold its Bangus Festival on April 30, mayors or barangay officials were warned by President Duterte that they are liable and will be charged with dereliction of duty if they fail to enforce quarantine protocols and prevent the surge in COVID-19 cases in their respective municipalities or cities.
The official Philippine News Agency reported on Thursday (April 29) that Mr. Duterte threatened to slap mayors and barangay officials with administrative and criminal charges if they fail to enforce the required health and safety standards by holding “super spreader events”, which has been tagged as the main cause of surges in COVID-19 infections in many areas.
“I will hold (them) responsible and I will direct the secretary of the Department of the Interior and Local Government to hold the mayors and barangay officials responsible for these kind of events happening in their places,” Duterte said as quoted by PNA.
This tough stance foisted by the president may have prompted Dagupan City officials to tone down the celebration of the Bangus Festival on April 30, which was declared by Malacanang as a non-working public holiday at the request of Mayor Brian Lim.
We don’t know if he packed the downtown area with Baratillo stalls again. We have no way of knowing it because he deliberately covered a spot in front of the CSI Market Square, fully covering the mall owned by the family of ex-Mayor Belen Fernandez, completely hidden from public view to those passing ABF Avenue.
With no activities at all in this year’s Bangus Festival, many say city hall occupants could be saving their scalps for not proceeding with the planned pompous celebration of the Bangus Festival and the Pista’y Dayat the next day.
We were informed that the simple celebration of the Bangus Festival was abbreviated to mere dispersal of bangus fingerlings and the holding of mini-kalutan event along the baywalk in Tondaligan, with only city government workers participating.
So, why was there a need to declare April 30 as a non-working holiday, knowing the restrictions being imposed on such super spreader events?
In his talk to the people Wednesday night, Mr. Duterte was uncompromising: “The local government (DILG) will go after you administratively and criminally. ‘Pag may nangyari pang pistahan o sayawan diyan, ang tawagin ng DILG ang mayor pati ang barangay captain (If there are fiestas or dances there, the DILG will summon the mayor and barangay captain).
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While we seek God’s grace so COVID-19 will finally vanish in our land, we also pray for our brothers and sisters in India now besieged by the serous impact of the contagion, of magnitude far worse than what we are experiencing in PH.
We cannot hold back our tears when we saw dead men and women on TV being burned in simultaneous funeral fires as the country had run out of crematoriums. There was another report that amid a massive surge in COVID-19 cases in India and demand for treatment rising, their Ministry of Railways admitted on April 27 that it converted 4,000 rail carriages into makeshift COVID-19 care coaches with almost 64,000 beds ready for use by patients.
At least in PH, we still have not reached that stage. Why wait for the situation to get worse? We can do our part to prevent any more spike in COVID-19 cases by staying at home when we have nothing essential to do or get outside and by following all the healthy and safety protocols prescribed by authorities.
Through unity, we can overcome the crisis. But most of all, get vaccinated when your turn comes.
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Dr. Anna de Guzman, the provincial health officer, maintains that the regular COVID-19 update of the Provincial Health Office is more accurate than the figures being released by the regional office of the Department of Health-Center for Health Development .
She said this is because the PHO is regularly in touch with the city and municipal health officers making the report on the status of COVID-19 cases in their respective localities more accurate than the DOH-CHD.
It has been more than one year now since the DOH-CHD 1 had been releasing regional updates of COVID-19 cases but when we compare their figures with the locally available figures given to us by PHO, theirs were somewhat exaggerated. Sorry to admit, we are confused.
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