WITHOUT CLAIMING TO READ the impregnable, opaque mind of President Digong Duterte, chances are Bohol will likely be retained under GCQ or the General Community Quarantine on Monday’s presidential announcement.
Bohol is unlikely to retreat back to ECQ because that would be contradictory to signals of easing up the economy and religious rite attendance effective today and tomorrow.
For instance, beginning tomorrow, each local government unit will establish its own game plan on how to implement the dine-in restaurant business liberalization, one of the vital cogs of the Rest and Recreation business. City Hall is acting fast on the draw to define its dine-in protocols.
We have seen models online of restaurants in the internet where tables are separated by fiberglass or plastic to accommodate even four diners who are dining as a group in one table.
There are also- one diner per table- designs and the tables re-arranged equidistant consistent with social distancing goals.
Others had makeshift wires across the place where roll-on boxes are pushed to the main receiving area -containing orders, bills, money payment, and change with little waiter-to-diner contact. The possibilities are endless.
But by tomorrow, one thing is certain in that the occupancy rate will just be 30% of the capacity. Whether such percentage usage will make business sense in terms of breaking-even, individual entrepreneurs will have to push their pencils hard – and find out how much profit margins (additional selling price of items) they will add without turning off the customer away- and for them to just settle for cheaper home-cooked meals.
The permit to get 25% of church occupancy filled beginning today is refreshing relief for a religious community like Bohol. Maybe, the priests can do more but shorter Masses during Sundays to accommodate all. Giving 5-minute sermons is one way.
By now, everyone knows the do’s and dont’s in the Church New Normal starting today.
But one of the industries that desperately need to be gradually reopened has to be the public transportation business since the majority still do not own their own vehicles. Otherwise, many of the demand and supply sides of the economy will continue to be partially paralyzed since mobility is drastically impaired.
In the absence of full transportation opening, many clamored for the delisting of the “no-back riding rule” on motorcycles, a popular mode of transport in any Philippine city. Members of the same family do have closer physical encounters and nearness at home than mere back riding – so the idea of “no back-riding” seemed foolish, to start with.
More foolish was an off-tangent suggestion of a blind-sided national official suggesting that people just add sidecars to their motorbikes which will probably cost more than the motorbike itself.
Against our worst fears, however, we read DOT ( Department of Tourism), Secretary Bernadette Puyat Romulo categorically state in a recent Manila Bulletin Page One story that Boracay and Bohol will be the first two prime tourist destinations to be opened.
Boracay tourism protocols have been established – so could Bohol be far behind?
That is a shot in the arm as thousands in the tourism industry are now jobless. They will have to address the sanitation issue of those resorts used to quarantine returning OFWs here.
Governor Art Yap has sounded the alarm that being dependent on one major industry like tourism can also be detrimental to the province. So, he is setting his sights on agri development and some manufacturing semblance.
But so far, the new pesos that had gone out of Capitol coffers have been amelioration in nature and the new P700-M commercial bank debt is to modernize the hospital health care system in th devolved hospitals and some road equipment obviously aimed at infrastructure projects (new or maintenance).
We are quite aware though that there are some limitations to free-wheeling government spending. This is because money spent not as appropriated by the SP-approved 2020 budget is actually qualified as “technical malversation”
On the other hand, why can Bohol not be liberalized into MGCQ (Modified)? Because- there are still threats. For one, from a zero -free Covid-19 situation in the past, there are new positive Covid-19 patients posted here.
Moreover, the capacity of the health care system here vs Covid-19 remains suspect.
No PCR Testing capability at the Panglao International Airport and the 8 major seaports yet. Even the touted PCR Testing at the Gov Gallares Regional Hospital is suffering months of delay and seemed not living up to its billing yet. Swab tests will therefore still have to take the long, circuitous route via the Vicente Memorial Hospital in Cebu City.
That is why the “Stay Off Our Borders” policy remains in Bohol.
Moreover, there is still the continuing stream of incoming OFWs and LSIs still subjected to a 14 day Quarantine period with Rapid Testing recommended at the tail-end of their Quarantine. There are just still too many things to attend to than to rush headlong to a more liberalized MGCQ.
Added to these woes, is the present overflowing of inmates or Persons Deprived of Liberty (PDL) at the various municipal lockup jails since the five major detention centers in the province manned by the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) are no longer accepting inmates without undergoing a rapid test. The Bohol District Jail which can accommodate some 400 inmates are now hosting 590 jailbirds.
If inmates are proven positive – one can imagine how many possible infected inmates there would potentially be given the notorious congestion of our jails.
Moreover, they have to prepare the jail isolation centers when in normal times the jails do not even have enough space to accommodate all the prisoners in the first place. It is a worrisome concern.
This lingering fear for Bohol, therefore, to stay on the side of conservative prudence was also reflected in surveys conducted by sister station dyRd’s ” Inyong Alagad” and “Tagbilaran by Night”.
A preponderant majority even want the Home Quarantine Pass to remain implemented to moderate the flow of people and the continuance of the 24/7 Curfew of seniors and minors during certain days of the week.
Fear Overhang still reigns on people’s minds and hearts.
The better part of prudence, therefore, suggests that Bohol remains at the GCQ level and watch what happens the next 15 days again.
Then review the decision and put it to a number of tests.
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