"These bureau employees had their own version of mañanita in Boracay."
The breach of quarantine rules by a group of Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) personnel on Boracay island showcases yet again the culture of impunity among those in the position of authority and how they abuse their power right before our eyes.
While most of us have painstakingly adhered to the strict rules of community quarantine, these hooligans chose to pull off their version of “mananita” last weekend, June 12-14, in Boracay.
Unfortunately for them, one female member of at least 25 members of the BFP group from Iloilo City turned out to be COVID-19 positive, according to results of tests taken in Iloilo before the trip.
Ironically, these firefighters said they came to join the entourage of the Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force (BIATF) that held a meeting there June 11-12 during which top officials announced the island’s reopening to tourism.
The BIATF disowned the BFP group, stating that the meeting had concluded and most participants, including the invited media, were already leaving Friday afternoon, June 12.
Considering that BFP is under the DILG, this deliberate violation of the quarantine rule on social gathering and physical distancing certainly does not show their high regard for DILG Secretary Eduardo Año, who co-chairs the BIATF, along with DENR Sec. Roy Cimatu, chairman and DOT Sec. Berna Puyat.
Año has ordered the relief from duties and placed under quarantine all members of the BFP involved, as well as the workers of the unnamed hotel where the group stayed for three days for “despedida party.”
The Department of Tourism (DOT) yesterday announced it has revoked the accreditation of the said hotel.
Good thing Ano has also ordered an investigation before somebody runs to Manong Digong and cries on his shoulder over this shenanigan.
We will see if this time the dictum “Law is law” will be upheld.
It’s a shame that the BFP spoiled the anticipated opening of Boracay which was being trumpeted as the model of the country’s tourism under the New Normal.
BIATF has been looking forward to allowing direct flights from abroad to Boracay island to bring back the green bucks while the rest of the country continues to grapple with continued pandemic threat and poverty.
Despite the extreme difficulties caused by the restriction on mass transportation that tend to punish rather than protect from illness, the ever-resilient Juan dela Cruz managed to go to work and shell out a few pesos for subsistence.
Now, we are faced with the challenge of proving wrong the projection of the University of the Philippines Institute of Mathematics that the COVID-19 cases in the country would reach 40,000 by June 30.
The UP Institute’s research team has advised against easing the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) in Metro Manila and Cebu City due to constant increases in confirmed coronavirus infections.
For all we know, those 40,000 COVID-19 cases may be existing already but they have not been confirmed and reported due to lack of mass testing.
As I’ve said earlier, things may get even worse before they get any better.
Let us keep our fingers crossed, as we expect the influx of tens of thousands of Overseas Filipino Workers. We should welcome them with open arms like the true heroes that they are who helped keep the country's economy afloat all these years.
An expert from the DOH, Dr. Rontgene Solante, said we may have to learn how to live with COVID-19 until such time that a vaccine for it is discovered.
That simply means we have no choice but to adapt to the so-called New Normal where we give importance to personal preventive measures against contracting the virus.
We should not act like the hooligans but rather continue to cooperate and make this whole thing work for our own good, especially for the benefit of our children.
And more important than rebuking UP's 40,000 COVID-19 case prediction is to ensure the future of our children who must learn how to cope with life's challenges like this as they grow.