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Coronavirus unifies

Updated: Mar 27, 2020

By Harold Clavite

A call for unity was made by Iligan City’s Congressman Freddie Siao “to set aside our politics and differences” amid all this chaos brought about by the relentless coronavirus that’s causing COVID-19 which has resulted to a global pandemonium with scores of deaths across the globe. 

I commend the congressman for such bold declaration and I believe this is something worth emulating. In support of political rival Mayor Celso Regencia’s efforts, Siao sends help to frontline workers and affected communities while the city gathers all efforts to assist communities.

Several local government leaders have stepped up and, going beyond the call of duty, manifested a highly commendable set of values that is all required of an effective leadership. In the midst of all the drama and chaos, with cities locking down and businesses closing their doors, we need leaders who can truly represent us, those who are born with courage and admirable values. There are a lot of them out there, each doing their best to take control of the situation. Many of them even locked in isolation as “persons under monitoring.”

Pasig City’s Mayor Vico Sotto, a newbie in local chief executive functions, demonstrates an ideal response-oriented execution plan and, leveraging on his youth and celebrity status, he rallies support with specific action points addressing the needs of his constituency. Another newbie in executive leadership, Mayor Joy Belmonte of Quezon City shows physical presence and hands-on leadership on the ground betwixt sincerity and a PR mishap caused by an edited video that went viral on social media. While on quarantine, Davao City’s Mayor Sara Duterte endlessly calls for citizen’s adherence to community quarantine guidelines or pay the price. 

On the other hand, Governo Imelda ‘Angging’ Dimaporo’s prowess is showing having put in place a strong provincial incident command center in Lanao del Norte with her personally leading a local task force. Kauswagan’s Mayor Rommel Arnado, a model mayor and internationally recognized for his peace building and sustainable development initiatives, takes the cut by enhancing further what already is an “enhanced community quarantine” set of procedures and providing organic produce and rice to families. All making sure local transmission is prevented. 

Several local government units are making drastic decisions on putting extreme steps to constrain movement of people. These may not be a comfortable intervention for many of us, but it is necessary. People who do not heed to the call of government and medical authorities to stay home and isolate themselves are not realizing the gravity of this global crisis. This is our only chance at survival. We need to go through this painful shift in daily living to be able to make it. 

The national Inter-agency Task Force (IATF) leading the response on COVID-19, however, is regulating local actions to ensure no abuse would ever take place by adhering to national guidelines and directives on quarantine protocols.

While such impressive steps are being done locally, our national government is in a dilemma in making more tests available and while testing laboratories are not available outside of the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM), further urgent steps need to be undertaken nationally. It may be a big challenge for the Department of Health (DOH), but massive testing is necessary at this point to help control the transmission of the disease. With more than 700 confirmed cases now and 45 deaths in the archipelago, the DOH likewise needs to be drastic on massive testing.

With our leaders, politicians, civil society and netizens all chiming in, we need to be unified in our rapid response. For individuals who are now spending a lot more time on social media and the Internet, let us make sure we contribute well in coming up with solutions. Spreading unverified reports and worst, fake news, only makes our community isolation more dreadful.

We do not want a China, an Italy, or a Spain to happen to us. While we still can, we need to do everything we can to avert further loss of lives.  

Echoing Siao, let us set aside our differences. Political nemeses Mayor Oscar Moreno and Governor Bambi Emano are working together on a “harmonized quarantine” in Misamis Oriental. Who would have thought this could be possible? It may be difficult for some, but it is only right for politicians to take action beyond politics.

Humanity indeed advances in time of grief. While it is heavily affecting the way we live, coronavirus brings us together. And we must disregard color schemes and politics. 

In this great trial, let us find joy in doing what we can to ease the burden of our families and our people. Our frontliners need more support— offer them food, water, facemasks, and protective gears. Our doctors don’t have to die.

Spread unity and love while we still can.

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