BY MARCHEL P. ESPINA
The business and labor sectors were not too keen after Bacolod was placed under modified enhanced community quarantine due to the rising number of coronavirus cases in the city.
This, after President Rodrigo Duterte approved on Monday the resolution of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases recommending MECQ in Bacolod City from September 8 until September 30.
Business leader Frank Carbon said they were shocked to wake up yesterday that Bacolod was already placed under MECQ, stressing that some of the businesses have already closed down due to the crisis.
“We slept the other night, thinking about how we can improve our sales and encourage more customers. Then we woke up, thinking we might lose our business,” Carbon, Metro Bacolod Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive officer, said.
He said that 90 percent of their customers and employees are highly dependent on public transportation, “if there is no movement, then there’s no business,” he added.
He said they are confused because the government allowed businesses to open, yet there is no public transportation.
He said the business community is more keen on implementing the granular lockdown so economic activities can continue, and that there should be a concrete plan, which should be reviewed on a weekly basis, to properly contain the virus.
He also said the local government should help re-capitalize small businesses and prepare an economic stimulus to improve the purchasing power of the people.
Labor leader Wennie Sancho said MECQ will continue to bring economic difficulties to the workers as it will increase unemployment due to the closure of more business establishments.
“Unfortunately, there is no sufficient explanation from the local government as to what are the specific areas where there was extreme Covid-19 contamination so we should avoid those places,” Sancho, secretary-general of General Alliance of Workers Associations, said.
Former Negros Occidental governor Rafael Coscolluela said declaratory executive orders and “clarifications” are reactionary and oftentimes only confuse the people.
“Bacolod residents feel isolated from their local government and do not see any reassuring signs that the city is winning the war against Covid-19. Effective and visible leadership that secures community support is key to winning the war,” he said.
He also asked what is the battle plan against the virus, and if there is enough facility for Covid-19 patients to receive appropriate care.
He added, “are the needs of the vulnerable, the jobless and dislocated, taken care of? If so, for how long? What resources are available from the city’s coffers? Can the city reprogram its development funds to address the gaps?”
Mayor Evelio Leonardia, in a video message released by the city government, said that the top national IATF officials will be in the city today.
Expected to arrive is Covid-19 Task Force chief implementer Carlito Galvez Jr.
Leonardia said the only thing the city will do is implement the mandate of IATF.
He said there will be inconvenience to the residents, and that adjustments will be made. “This is our tradeoff to contain the spread of the virus,” he added.
He said, “with caution and optimism, let’s face this problem squarely. We hope that with the help of these people, with their expertise, experience, and wisdom, we can all together benefit from this.”
Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson said the IATF sees it fit that Bacolod should be under MECQ.
“In fact, other local government units should monitor how it is implemented, and learn from it. Remember, Bacolod started from a small number, it could happen to the rest of the province if we are complacent,” he added.*