Please allow me, as a citizen and Bacolodnon, to publicly express my severe disappointment (putting it very, very mildly), as well as alarm, over your handling of our 28 brother and sister Bacolodnons (OFWs, returnees), and the way you justified your treatment of them without apology:
- First of all, since you already know long beforehand that there are Bacolodnons (among Negrenses) stuck in Manila (and elsewhere, many of them OFWs), who want to return to their families in Bacolod, CAN YOU NOT BY YOURSELVES, already ANTICIPATE, LOOK FORWARD TO, AND PREPARE FOR THEIR COMING even before OWWA will comply with the much touted “legal protocol” of whatever informing you that you have kababayans returning home soon?
Can we not have simple and basic FORESIGHT, ANTICIPATION, WISDOM, AND COMMON SENSE, not to mention this well-known and much revered “DILIGENCE OF A GOOD FATHER OF A FAMILY”, to know that your constituents ARE COMING HOME SOON, and will need accommodation BEFITTING THEM OF THE DIGNITY THEY DESERVE NOT ONLY AS HUMAN BEINGS, but as unsung heroes (OFWs who keep our economy alive), and as your constituents, and kababayan Bacolodnon?
Do you need to be told they are coming home? And if you do not have that letter of whatever, WILL YOU NOT, CAN YOU NOT, just the same, PREPARE AHEAD OF TIME???
- Stated another way, CAN YOU NOT PICK UP THE PHONE, CALL OWWA, and ask “Bossing, ilan ba nag mga kababayang Bacolodnon namin dyan? Kumusta ba sila dyan? Kailan ba most likely ang landing nila dito?” Are we not capable of such ordinary, common sense and fundamental diligence like that, ESPECIALLY THAT IN THE QUARANTINE, MOST OF YOU HAVE NOTHING TO DO NAMAN?
- If you were informed only “one day before”, can you then not call your battalions of casuals to hurriedly clean up, fumigate the rooms (kill all the cockroaches!!), check all plumbing, install cooler fans, and then, MEET THE RETURNING OFWS, AS YOUR OWN CHILDREN, AS YOUR OWN KASIMANWA, and THANK THEM FOR ALL THE SACRIFICE THEY DO FOR THE COUNTRY, and then ESCORT THEM YOURSELVES to their temporary quarters, AND WAIT IF THERE IS ANYTHING ELSE THEY NEED? And considering the harassment of PUIs and PUMs, anticipate their possible persecution and assign one or two guards in the area, OR AT LEAST A RUNNER to call for help should they need help?
- Instead of saying, “We did not promise you first class accommodation…” (oh my goodness, did THEY ASK for first class accommodations?), and in view of what you said is OWWA’s responsibility to book them in a hotel or whatever, COULD YOU HAVE NOT, PRO-ACTIVELY, WITH FORESIGHT, AND SOME MODICUM OF ADVANCE THINKING, already CALLED OWWA AND ASK IN ADVANCE HOW YOU MIGHT OPERATIONALIZE THEIR FUNDING OF THE RETURNEES’ hotel accommodation here in Bacolod? DID YOU NOT ALREADY SCOUR EVERY HOTEL, PENSION HOUSE, LODGING INN, APARTELLE in this FIRST-CLASS, HIGHLY URBANIZED CITY (my goodness, the embarrassment for our City on national TV) as to the returnees’ accommodation, and coordinate with OWWA over the same? Or did you expect the OWWA to do this for YOUR OWN kababayan, kasimanwa, kautoran??
- If these people were YOUR OWN BROTHERS, DAUGHTERS, CHIDLREN, PARENTS, WOULD YOU HAVE CONSENTED to relegating them to THE SAME dusty, unswept, cockroach-littered, non-flushing CR accommodations until they are transferred to better facilities? HAVE YOU INSPECTED THE PREMISES YOURSELVES AND WOULD YOU HAVE BEEN WILLING TO LIVE THERE YOURSELVES?
- Have they already been transferred? Are there hotels already accommodating them?
- In a second or third round of returnees, do we go through the same process again?
Now, with all due and great respect to you our elected public officials, may we ask you, and may you please answer us in writing:
- HOW MUCH did NATIONAL government extend by way of financial assistance to the City in relation to the COVID FIGHT, and how and on what were they spent, and how much is left?
- HOW MUCH OF THE CITY FUNDS (calamity funds, 5% development funds, emergency funds?…) – have you allocated for the fight against covid, and HOW MUCH IS LEFT?
- DID YOU ORDER FOR TESTING KITS? How many? How much? When will they arrive? Are they already in use?
- IN CASE OF MORE RETURNEES, and God forbid, in case of more PUIs and persons to be placed under mandatory isolated (not home) quarantine, WHERE ARE YOU GOING TO PUT THEM, AND HOW MANY CAN YOU ACCOMMODATE? Are there beds there, flushing toilets, ventilation…? Please give the public pictures of your prepared facility, if any.
- HOW MUCH HAVE YOU BEEN ALLOCATED AND HOW MUCH HAVE YOU SPENT FOR FOOD PACKS, CASH ASSISTANCE, how many in all have you assisted, and can you afford to feed the people for two more weeks?
- WHAT HAPPENED TO THE BUDGET FOR THE CASUALS? THESE ARE INTO MILLIONS OF PESOS. DID YOU DECLARE THEM AS SAVINGS? DID YOU SPEND THEM? WHERE? HOW? We do not see street cleaners, except garbage collectors, so the millions of allocation for them must be free…
- If BY MAY 15, 2020, there are still covid positive patients, and PUIs and PUMs, and some more returnees, from Middle East, Manila, et cetera, WILL YOU AGAIN EXTEND THE ECQ?
Please, with all due and great respect to you all, please answer this set of query with WRITTEN REPORTS, CERTIFIED AND SIGNED CORRECT by responsible officers of the City government.
We the people, have been trying to be very obedient to your rules and regulations. It is not easy to yield and surrender our most basic rights for too long out of respect for your appeal for more patience. But what happened to our 28 OFW and returnee Bacolod brothers and sisters was an eye opener, a rude awakening – of the kind of care and attention, AND RESPECT, that we, your people can expect from you in times of trouble. And we are heartbroken…
We have two more weeks of nothing to do, so we will spend much of this time to watch you, and await your report, and your reply. You have asked much of us (surrender our liberties, our opportunity to earn, to work), we hope this letter and request is not asking too much from you.
Please consider this as the kind of letter requiring a response in the context of our Law on Ethical Standards of Public Officials.
Thank you very much and we continue to pray for God’s grace and favor upon our city!
(Read also: Former city dad asks: why not use evac center for quarantine?)