Come To Think Of It



The COVID-19 roulette of luck has given Bacolod City MECQ status until September 30 and if everything goes well, changing what was a “G” to an “E” will be enough to slow down the surge of coronavirus cases in our communities. However, if the status quo prevails and there is no difference in the way the people responsible approach the issue, then, at least, we will have seen that our government has done something. When they put our city under MECQ, even if we do not know what that actually means in the long run, that should count as something.

The most visible inconvenience brought about by MECQ is the suspension of public transportation and the numerous checkpoints all over the city.

Whether a local government is ready or not, public transportation is apparently suspended by the MECQ status. It didn’t help that the shift to MECQ was announced during our great rambling leader’s late night sessions that are now somehow considered as an address to the nation. The announcement was made in the dead of night and it was expected to be magically effective by dawn.

Despite no public transportation, most shops and offices were expected to remain open because as our great leader has repeatedly told us, government has no more money so it is therefore the patriotic duty of the private sector to take care of themselves and the people who are dependent on them.

Employers will continue to open their establishments despite having no customers caused by the sudden disappearance of public transportation because their employees will not get anything from the government that declared the new quarantine status out of the blue.

Additionally, employers are expected to find the ways and means for their employees to get to work because there is no public transportation. The business sector, from the big conglomerates to the tiny mom and pop shops, have to pony up payroll and bear the additional cost of shuttle services for their employees even though there will be minimal business because the government says so and it is for our own good.

In a world where the local and national governments know what they are doing and are providing the properly gathered and presented scientific data to show that all this suffering has a purpose and an ending, the business community would be glad to pitch in.

Small businesses already struggling with the meagre sales from MGCQ will be more willing to tighten their belts, dip into their savings or emergency funds in order to survive this pandemic if they knew what the current MECQ status was conferred after due diligence by experts.

The problem with the way things are being done is that it feels like government is not just missing funds, but missing a plan and a brain. The MECQ status for Bacolod City may have been necessary but did the announcement have to be almost midnight and effectivity by dawn? Was the LGU unprepared for MECQ because of poor leadership or is lack in quality found higher up the chain of command? Either way, based on the way things have been done for the past 6 months, it seems like there is no plan and the people responsible for our fate are just pulling acronyms, rules and regulations from thin air and expecting the resilient Filipino people to find the necessary ways to adapt.

My wife and I manage a kiosk in a mall in the city. We were already barely making rent and payroll during the MGCQ period. If we didn’t care about our staff, we would’ve fired them, closed the store, and waited out the rest of this apocalypse from the safety of our privileged home. Now comes the MECQ and there are even less sales because there is no more public transport. It’s a good thing our service crew saved up for a motorcycle when the going was good before this poorly managed pandemic mucked things up so I don’t have to worry about providing a shuttle service just so our little 2-man kiosk can stay open. But our neighboring kiosks have closed during the MECQ because the cost of doing business in a shitty business environment must’ve been too much.

While we shouldn’t fully open up the economy because that would be reckless, micro, small and medium businesses are probably at their breaking points right now and the curse of a government with absolutely no plan is not helping. We have tried our best to carry the load. We have resisted letting people go for as long as we can because there is no longer any ayuda from government. But if the only end in sight our leaders can promise is a magical vaccine, I don’t know how many more businesses can continue operating under this ugly new normal.

At the very least, some advance warning would be nice. If government is going to shut down public transportation, giving us more than a couple of hours would help us weather these self-inflicted storms. If you come to think of it, what can we expect from a government that doesn’t even know what’s next for a major city like Bacolod that had already been showing all the classic signs of a deteriorating COVID-19 situation?

Anyhow, ready or not, MECQ has already been declared and we have no choice but to comply with whatever silly new rules they want us to follow. Businesspeople will throw away twoweeks’ worth of payroll and rent. Homebodies will stay home. Employees will go to work. We do as government says because we have no choice. They have long arms at checkpoints and since bullets are useless against the virus so we are guessing those deadly weapons are being displayed and will be used on human beings.

What we’d like to know is what happens next. What comes after this MECQ? Another round of MGCQ or whatever Q? What are they doing aside from changing letters? Should employers keep paying their people and continue doing business in an environment that is becoming more and more hopeless because the people in charge don’t seem to know what they are doing? Will this alphabet soup roulette of Qs continue until a working vaccine is available? How much longer do we have to deal with this disgustingly low quality of governance? Is a vaccine for that worsening disease also being developed?*

Follow on Twitter: @bindadu
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