DAVAO CITY—There is no turning back. And there is virtually no time to waste for the City of Davao, a southern metropolis of over two million inhabitants, to fight against the dreaded novel Coronavirus Disease-2019 (Covid-19). This is the gist of Executive Order No. 23, Series of 2020 issued by Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio on April 2, 2020 “An Order for the Guidelines of an Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ),” and thereby supplementing or superseding her earlier orders for a stricter implementation of all safeguarding protocols against Covid-19.
Under the said order which took effect in the evening of April 4, 2020, the city strongly warns all residents in the region to stay at home and restricts unnecessary movement of people particularly children, senior citizens, pregnant women, sick and those with immunocompromised individuals; operation of non-health essential business establishments; stoppage of mass transport system; imposing curfew hours from 9:00 p.m. until 5:00 a.m.; and, issuance of the Food and Medicine (FM) pass, among other prohibitions. “The forms of transportation (that) are allowed are: a) private vehicles, taxis with one driver and one passenger in front and one at the back, observing physical distancing, b) tricycle with one driver and one passenger in front and one at the back, observing physical distancing, c) single rider motorcycle or bicycle; and, d) free bus rides from the government,” states Section 3, paragraph 7 of the said order.
The urgent action of Mayor Duterte-Carpio came after the Davao Region recorded a total death toll of 11 as of 8:00 p.m. of April 3, 2020. Based on the Official Covid-19 Tracker for Davao Region of the same date, 73 persons were confirmed infected while 21 had recovered from the disease. The country has 3,094 cases, 144 deaths and 57 recoveries in its tally sheet. In March 17, Mayor Duterte was appointed to head the Davao Region Covid-19 Task Force through a joint resolution issued by the Regional Peace and Order Council and the Regional Development Council of Region XI. The said resolution also caused the lockdown of the region from the rest of Mindanao.
The task force’s main job is to implement a region-wide unified effort across local government units to contain Covid-19. Earlier, Mayor Duterte-Carpio issued Executive Order No. 20-A putting the entire city into a state of Community Quarantine from March 26 to April 19, 2019. Heeding to the call of the national government of social or physical distancing and to wear facemasks whenever possible she also suspended the holding of the yearly celebration of the “Araw ng Davao” in March 15.
The hunt for 400 “sabungero” on
New Davao Matina Gallera
But when everything seems to be under control and help for additional Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) supplies, Covid-19 Test Kits and support for front liners are pouring in, reports have circulated about the possible widespread infection among cockfight aficionados or locally known as “sabungero.” While the city had erstwhile suspended the 89th Araw ng Davao celebration the cock derby at the New Davao Matina Gallera, continued unheeded from March 6 to13, possibly because of the total P26 million booty at stake. According to Carol Arguillas of Mindanews, the Davao City Council unanimously approved on February 4 the holding of the ill-fated derby at the said gallera that became a hotspot for the novel coronavirus disease, three days before Health Secretary Francisco Duque issued an advisory to “avoid attending, participating in, and organizing events that draw a huge number of attendees.”
Both the Department of Health and the City Health Office were alarmed due to the high number of “sabungero” who were tested positive of Covid-19 from Davao City and adjoining provinces. Unofficial source from the City Health Office says 11 of the attendees are positive, some have already died, and many more are considered either Persons Under Monitoring (PUM) or Persons Under Investigation (PUI).
Health officials had accounted about 400 names who were present at the gallera and started tracing their whereabouts and encouraging them to strictly undergo a 14-day quarantine and report to their health units for medical assistance. Unfortunately, many of them are not from Davao City. Saligan News learned from a reliable source who just came from Kidapawan City that some 50 “sabungero” who joined the said derby are from the provinces of North Cotabato and Maguindanao and may have infected others too.
A herd of cock fight aficionados from Davao City suddenly flocked to their respective Barangay Health Centers. As a consequence, their presence coupled with some lapses in following safety protocols might have unwittingly compromised the Covid-19 Operation Center (OpCen) located at the third floor of the Davao City Hall. One Barangay Health physician assigned in the OpCen was later found positive of Covid-19. Mayor Duterte-Carpio immediately ordered the closure of the OpCen at the City Hall and to quarantine all colleagues of the lady doctor in the OpCen and her station at the Barangay Health Center. As of this writing, many of the “sabugero” are still at large.
Issuance of Food and Medicine (FM) pass
A day after issuing Executive No. 23, Mayor Duterte-Carpio announced the delay in the printing of the FM pass cards which one must carry to buy food and medicines. The said FM card which is ready by April 7 will replace all other passes that were issued earlier by local government units in relation to Covid-9. Issuance of “Quarantine Pass”, “Work Pass”, and “Travel Pass” by local government units somehow causes undue tension among residents.
The city has 183 barangays and printing and distribution of the pass is a huge task of local officials whose hands are already full in providing assistance to their constituents. Aside the city-based support through the City Social Services and Development Office, they are expected to implement the social amelioration programs and other assistance from the national government.