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Cause-oriented groups in Cebu: We need medical, not militarized solutions

By: Morexette Marie B. Erram - CDN Digital | June 26,2020 - 11:55 AM
Cause-oriented groups in Cebu: We need medical, not militarized, solutions

Cops man a border checkpoint in Barangay Bulacao in Talisay City as stricter border controls between Cebu City and Cebu Province are implemented starting Friday, June 26, 2020,. Vehicles are now rerouted to the Cebu South Coastal Road as Talisay City implements the One Entrance One Exit policy. CDN Digital photo | Gerard Vincent Francisco

CEBU CITY, Philippines – Cause-oriented groups in Cebu are calling for the national government to provide medical, not militaristic, solutions to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic here.

The Movement Against Tyranny Cebu (MAT – Cebu) and the Cebu Citizens’ Assembly, in separate statements, criticized the decision of the government’s anti-coronavirus task force to send more troops and retired Army officials in reinforcing and leading the COVID-19 response of Cebu.

Both groups said that the entire island, which has over 7,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases as of June 25, 2020, needed more healthcare workers, virologists and epidemiologists instead.

“Authorities in facing the COVID-19 outbreak should be led by epidemiologists and virologists, not by military men. This sudden lockdown without warning in Cebu is insensitive to the plight of the people, especially that of the poor,” said Noe Santillan, spokesperson of MAT – Cebu.

The Cebu Citizens’ Assembly, for their part, added that ‘evidence-based, expert-guided and scientific approach’ should be appropriate in containing the spread of the virus in Cebu.

The virus being a public health issue, it should be treated as such, and not as a public law enforcement issue, employing a militaristic solution,” the group stated.

Last June 22, President Rodrigo Duterte appointed Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu, a retired army general, to oversee and head the COVID-19 response in Cebu.

READ MORE: Duterte to send Cimatu to Cebu to monitor COVID-19 situation

Since Cimatu’s arrival here last Tuesday, several stricter quarantine measures were imposed.

These included the suspension of Cebu City-issued quarantine passes, tighter border controls between neighboring cities, the establishment of more checkpoints in barangays, and the deployment of more troops from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP).

Both MAT – Cebu and the Cebu Citizens’ Assembly expressed alarm on the sudden decision of the national government to scrap the validity of quarantine passes.

“The people could have been warned earlier and relief goods and funds could have been provided earlier to support the struggling poor families. Instead, the government, through its military and police, has prepared to arrest ‘violators’,” Santillan said.

The national government decided to intervene in the COVID-19 affairs in Cebu, particularly the province’s capital, due to the high transmission of the virus.

They also noted a surge in the number of coronavirus patients needing hospital care, and the lack of healthcare workers and infirmary beds to accommodate as part of their primary reasons to step in.

But the Cebu Citizens’ Assembly also expressed concern on such intervention, adding that it ‘disrespects the local autonomy’ of the city.

“We believe that without the Cebu City government declaring itself or being declared unable to contain the pandemic, the exercise of the police powers of the city by the national government is an intrusion into local autonomy and not an exercise of proper control and supervision,” they added. /bmjo

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