By MAYOR ISKO MORENO
I find it really difficult to fathom and highly disappointing how a number of our regular citizens can continue trivializing the crisis our country is faced right now, not to mention the so many deaths that have resulted from the COVID-19 not just here, but all across the globe. It’s all over the news and social media 24/7.
There is just this innate wanton disregard of the already desperate calls being made by both the national and local governments, for them to stay home and fully observe the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), being the best way we know to contain the illness and prevent its transmission in the communities.
And then just as I thought this was already the worst part of the problem, two batches of barangay officials displayed the height of their unworthiness by spearheading illegal activities while also violating of the ECQ and promoting the spread of the coronavirus.
I’m sure many of you have already heard about the barangay chairman and four barangay kagawads of Barangay 128 in Caloocan City whom we ran after for thinking they can make a mockery of the law and get away with it.
Not only did they hold cockfighting which is illegal in Manila. They held the illegal activity right inside the Manila North Cemetery and on a Good Friday, with spectators ang bettors stepping right on top of the tombs of city residents buried there.
To top it all, they are not even from Manila and probably thought it would be easier for them to get away if they did it not in their own city. We hunted them down and thankfully, Caloocan Mayor Oca Malapitan did not tolerate them and was in fact very helpful and became instrumental in their quick surrender. Even if they apologized, they have been charged accordingly. They are chairman Brix John Rolly Reyes; his barangay kagawads Alfie Lacson; Romualdo Reyes alias ‘Udong and John Cris Domingo alias ‘Tenga’ and a certain ‘Cabron’ of Barangay 131.
Just a couple of days after that, I also ordered the filing of charges against the barangay chairman and also several barangay kagawads of Barangay 20 in Parola, Tondo, after a viral video showed minors, in exchange for money, engaging in a boxing fight in the middle of the street, with about a hundred spectators, both young and old. They are as follows: Chairman Bryan M. Mondejar and barangay kagawads Nonie P. Dellota, Anthony G. Igus, Larry P. Fuentes, Rufo S. Gacul, Amalia A. Bergoro, Michael John Arinque, Freddie C. Amistoso, all of Barangay 20, Zone 2, District I, Road 10, Tondo, Manila.
It’s impossible that they were unaware of what was happening in their area of jurisdiction. It’s either they allowed it or were sleeping on the job.
Needless to say, on both occasions, all caution, the required ECQ and social distancing and all, were virtually thrown to the wind.
I was forced to totally lock down the said barangay not only to teach its residents a lesson but moreso, to have them tested. Sadly, we had pull out our already limited and tired city health workers from attending to more important medical cases just to conduct the said testing.
We are taking these as just temporary setbacks, as we continued carrying out measures related to efforts at preventing the spread, if not elimination, of COVID-19.
For one, the city government was able to put in readiness the Del Pan Evacuation Center in Tondo as a temporary holding area for persons under investigation (PUIs) — now termed ‘probable’ cases—if and when the hospitals in Manila, both private and public, can no longer take them in, so as to effectively isolate them from their families and avoid infection.
Through the aid of the city council headed by my ever supportive Vice Mayor and Council Presiding Officer Honey Lacuna, we were able to realign and release over P591 million in ‘city amelioration crisis assistance fund (CACAF)’ to provide P1,000 financial assistance to each of the families residing in Manila. Barangay chairmen provided the lists of recipients.
Recently, we had to again allocate over P19 million based on requests by barangay chairmen for reconsideration, after it turned out that some have been inadvertently left out by the lists they earlier gave.
The city government has also begun testing at least 1,000 residents per week in an effort to prevent widespread transmission of COVID-19 in various communities in Manila. Our gratitude to the Department of Health (DOH) and the UP-Philippine General Hospital, which had been designated by the DOH as among the hospitals to handle COVID-19 cases, for helping us with the mass testing kits.
I also signed two ordinances passed by the city council. One makes it mandatory for one to wear a face mask when in Manila. The other makes it illegal for any funeral parlor to refuse bodies of patients who died of COVID-19.
Lamentably, no amount of action on the part of government will make COVID-19 go away. It can only be achieved if the people will do their share by staying home, observing social distancing when they really need to go out to buy home essentials and following what the national and local government tell them to do.
Walang mag mamalasakit sa Maynila kundi tayo ding mga Batang Maynila. Manila, God first! ***
For updates on latest developments in the city of Manila, please visit my Facebook account— ‘Isko Moreno Domagoso.’