Modified isolation

By Modesto P. Sa-onoy

There was a sigh of relief at the initial report – where else but the social media? – that Occidental Negros Governor Eugenio Lacson will issue an order for a modified enhanced community quarantine by today. There were lots of speculations and some people started thinking on what to do first after being isolated for one month. One guy said he would go to his barber because his last visit there was two months ago. I am certain many other gentlemen have the same intent, but I am beginning to like a long hair, and maybe save a few hundred pesos by not having it cut on a monthly basis.

The Governor did issue the modified sequestration of the citizens. Some were disappointed that the modified isolation did not include everybody, but it helped the most economically affected – the pedicabs and the tricycle drivers who earn literally their daily bread. They can ply their routes and take a limited number of passengers.

The other beneficiaries are housewives and domestic helpers who walked a kilometer or more to go to the wet markets, though in staggered basis. Coming home with a bundle of groceries or vegetables, fish and meat is not easy if one had to walk a kilometer. The trisikad or tricycle is a blessing.

I was usually irritated by these contraptions clogging our streets and blocking traffic until in 2012 we were in Madrid. Public buses had fixed routes as ours, but they came far in between, unlike our jeeps that come too close to each other. We had to drag our luggage for half a kilometer before we arrived at a bus stop. Taxis were scarce, the drivers don’t help with the luggage and their fares are expensive. Worse they don’t accept dollars, so we had to look for a currency exchanger that were few and far apart. How we wished then that Spain had the trikes and the tricycles! Thus, I began to appreciate and be patient with them.

The Governor said LGUs can allow public transport to operate in their locality which is common sense, but they cannot cross or pass through Bacolod because they might infect the city with a no longer existing virus.

Freedom of movement could be eased depending on the situation in the locality, Lacson’s order said. Indeed, why can’t people move around for important matters when the town is virus free?

On the other hand, Bacolod will remain in its present state of controlled movement no matter now unreasonable it had become. But as I wrote last week, it is not time to argue about the cure worse than the disease because there is no point in arguing when minds are closed.

For instance. What is the purpose of the ECQ? Answer: to prevent the spread of the virus. What happens when there is no more virus as happily announced by the local governments? Keep the ECQ and just shut up! Why? Because it might come back. From where since all ports are locked out? Just shut up and follow the rules.

And so, an obedient citizenry afraid of being infected and dying of a virus that is no longer there, simply comply. Better isolated and insulated and keep whatever good you can make of the situation that you can record so that you have stories to tell your grandchildren what you did during the Covid-19 War. This war is a test of ingenuity and piety.

Governor Lacson said, “after safeguarding the health and safety of every Negrense, it is now time to look after the economic and financial welfare of everyone affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in Negros.” He added that all government and private construction projects will be allowed to resume, and hardware stores to open and conduct business.

The order of the Governor will begin the process of reviving the economy. Unless a person had to cross the border of Bacolod and not wear preventive measures like the mask, things will start to normalize. The economy is beginning to show the strain of the lockdowns.

Last Friday, NEDA secretary general Ernesto Pernia resigned for what he claimed health reasons, but he added his departure was also due to differences with some cabinet members on “development philosophy”. The day before, he insinuated the need to modify the lockdown.

We shall discuss this tomorrow.