Tuesday, April 27, 2021

‘Don Quixote de la Zamboanga’

ZAMBOANGA CITY Mayor Beng Climaco seems to be fighting alone the Covid-19 pandemic ala “Don Quixote de la Mancha,” the character in the Spanish novel written by Miguel de Cervantes.

Although Climaco is assisted by the local task force on Covid-19 which she chairs, the fight against the spread of the deadly respiratory cannot be won unless barangay officials do their jobs. 

The local task force on Covid-19 can be likened to Sancho Panza, another character in the novel of Cervantes. Panza, a simple farmer, was recruited by Don Quixote as his squire. 

Just like in the book, today’s pandemic is the windmills that Don Quixote thought are giants and he fought it gallantly. But Don Quixote cannot fight the giants alone, and even with his squire; and so is Climaco and her Covid-19 task force. 

Many people in different barangays have continuously violated the strict health protocols and quarantine guidelines imposed by the local government in an effort to stop or control the spread of the Covid-19. 

Barangay officials and their tanods are nowhere in sight to enforce the health protocols and worst, some of them violate the guidelines they are supposed to impose on their constituents – not wearing face mask and face shield properly, and even broke protocols on social distancing, among others. 

Climaco’s only consolation is the hardwork and dedication of soldiers and policemen in imposing the health protocols, but they could only do so much. Residents are hard-headed and complacent as if Covid-19 is just a simple flu. 

Even the mayor’s Facebook page are full of insults and expletives from people who do not understand why the local government has to strictly impose and adhere to the guidelines set by the national government’s Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID). 

The profanities of those who cursed Climaco were full of rage. Many of them political propagandists and trolls, fake accounts and people who are not even natives of Zamboanga. And sadly, the administrators of Climaco’s social media page allowed all these and failed terribly in defending the mayor, not even delete the libelous comments.   

Being religious and a devout Catholic, Climaco only offers prayers to those who wish her ill and people who besmirched her reputation. She leaves everything to God, her Savior and Protector. 

With the increasing number of Covid-19 cases in Zamboanga, Climaco fears the national government may place the city under a strict quarantine measure unless residents follow health protocols religiously.

Climaco said if the Covid-19 situation becomes uncontrollable due to the continued violations of the health protocols and complacency of residents, the IATF-MEID could impose severe measures just as it did last year at the start of the pandemic. 

“This is the reason why the City Government is intensifying enforcement of preventive measures such as wearing of face masks and face shields by residents, practicing hand hygiene and physical distancing, to include restricting mobility of people and even temporary closure of beaches and resorts to curb transmission of Covid-19,” she said. 

“Otherwise, if the (Covid-19) cases become unmanageable then the national government might declare ECQ and we do not want to be under ECQ because of its effects on the livelihood of people,” she added, referring to the strictest Enhanced Community Quarantine status. 

Police continue to apprehend hundreds of health protocols violators every day despite the rising cases of Covid-19.

Zamboanga City had a little over three dozen active Covid-19 cases in March. And even Health Assistant Secretary Romeo Ong congratulated the local government for keeping the number of active Covid-19 cases below 100.

Ong also urged residents to follow the strict health protocols, especially now that Covid cases spiked in other parts of the country. “This pandemic proves again this is not only a national, but a global challenge. The virus recognizes no national boundaries, no difference in political system, in culture, in religion whatsoever. It attacks all of us the same way. So there is an even greater need for closer and more effective cooperation, it has to be a whole of government and whole of society approach,” he said. 

“My message is to always keep the minimum health standards, keep masks and face shields on, social distance and washing of hands. No matter whether it is the variant or not, it is the same virus and the transmission is the same. For our health care workers, get vaccinated. We are about to go to the next batch of vaccines,” Ong added. 

But the local health situation quickly changed and Zamboanga now has more than 1,000 active Covid-19 cases and the spike in the number of infections occurred after the IATF-MEID relaxed its travel protocols across the country and allowed people to go from one place to another without medical certificates and RT-PCR tests. 

Private and government hospitals have put up additional wards to address the spike in the number of patients with the deadly respiratory disease. But it was not enough.

Climaco stressed that in confronting the pandemic, the government has to balance medical science, facts and opportunity for people to be healed. 

Based on the recommendation of the City Health Officer Dr. Dulce Amor Miravite and City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Officer Elmeir Apolinario, the local government has asked the IATF-MEID to revert Zamboanga to General Community Quarantine status from the current Modified General Community Quarantine to restrict the movement of people and control the spread of the disease. 

“The request for GCQ is based on the recommendation of Doctor Miravite and CDRRMO. Hace kita claro, we do not want any form of ECQ because if it will be implemented, the people will really suffer. That is why I am asking everyone, this possibility is a likelihood just like in Metro Manila and I don’t think it is something we welcome in the city,” Climaco said, reiterating that people have to fully cooperate and support the government in the fight against Covid-19 to prevent further increase in the number of infections here. (Zamboanga Post)

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