BY CHRYSEE G. SAMILLANO
About 1,786 public market vendors participated in the surveillance testing conducted in the three major public markets in Bacolod City Saturday to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), City Administraror Em Ang said yesterday.
Ang said the total number of vendors who participated in the program in Libertad Market were 695, Burgos Market – 600 and Central Market – 491 or a total of 1,786 of the more than 1,200 who confirmed they would undergo the test Thursday.
The program is part of the interventions of the city to stop the increase in the number of COVID-positive cases in Bacolod, she said.
Those who were tested were issued market passes and signages to be placed in their stalls indicating that they are compliant, Ang said.
The city conducted on information education campaign in the major markets to explain the program for about a week before the scheduled surveillance testing, she added.
The conduct of the surveillance testing went on smoothly Saturday except in the Libertad Market that was delayed by a lightning rally held by some alleged vendors where she had seen on a Facebook page that their speaker was Councilor Wilson Gamboa Jr., Ang said.
Ang said she was informed by the market supervisor that the rallyists were not actual market vendors.
She also saw on Facebook that Gamboa was discouraging the vendors from participating in the surveillance testing and undermining the interventions of the city government of which he is a part, and that of the National Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF), Ang said.
If he has better ideas he should give his suggestions to the IATF, and volunteer, help and attend the meetings at the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) like other councilors have been doing, Ang said.
Other city councilors have assignments at the EOC except for Gamboa, she added.
Gamboa said he was invited by the vendors to join their rally against the surveillance testing conducted by the city government.
He claimed that other city officials had also been invited to the rally so they could express their stand.
On the invitation of Ang for him to help the IATF and EOC, Gamboa said the obligation of a councilor is to study to be able to come up with policy directions, resolutions and ordinances to be able to help the frontliners.
Bacolod Mayor Evelio Leonardia thanked all the 1,786 public market vendors who willingly had themselves swabbed under the Surveillance Testing project.
“The numbers say it all. More of our people are now aware of the necessity of the testing in our fight against COVID-19 and they realize that such will redound to their personal benefit as well as that of their families and the public in general,” the mayor said.
Leonardia also said that the fight against COVID-19 needs the participation and cooperation of everyone to succeed. It cannot be done by the government alone.
It is unfortunate and very hard to believe, however, that in the midst of this pandemic, there are still people who exploit the situation for their political agenda. They sow misinformation and resort to black propaganda to confuse and mislead the public. This will bring us nowhere in this crisis, he said.
“We appeal to all those politicking to set aside their agenda meanwhile. Let us handle this COVID-19 crisis united as a people. It is when we are united that we can have a better chance of containing the virus and leading our people out of this pandemic. Politics will have its own time someday. But let it wait meanwhile if we care for the welfare of our people” Leonardia said.
“This is our plea. Please consider this appeal seriously,” he said.
At the same time, Leonardia thanked all the swabbers and frontliners, market association leaders, Philippine National Police and Philippine Army personnel, market officials and personnel and all those who made the Surveillance Testing possible.
He also extended his special thanks to Vice Mayor El Cid Familiaran, City Administrator Em Ang, Dr. Chris Sorongon, executive assistant Ernie Pineda, City Health officials and personnel, Mayor’s Office Staff, City Legal Officee Joselito Bayatan and the City Legal Office Enforcement Team who played vital roles in this project.*