BACOLOD CITY, Negros Occidental, Philippines – Archie Baribar became a councilor again under different circumstances after taking a break from three straight terms of three years each.
Now officially a senior citizen, Archie heads the exit planning team of this urban capital of half a million people now under an economic slump after at least six weeks of quarantines swung into effect.
“It will only turn from bad to less bad,” Archie tells DNX today on the first day, 11 May, of what could be the last week of the extended Enhanced Community Quarantine here, the longest so far in the province.
The seasoned lawmaker, now an ally of the sitting mayor, Evelio Leonardia, said the “general direction” of the city so far is towards a GCQ after two 14-day ECQs that ends 15 May.
The possible downgrade will be based largely on medical parameters, particularly on the confirmed COVID19 cases in the city, Archie added.
Sitting in his office with a handful of staff, Archie admits he is an “immuno-compromised” person at more than 60 years old.
Public service requires him though to be at his office every now and then, a responsibility, he says from which he cannot turn away from.
“I try not to be pessimistic about things,” Archie says, but with scientists saying that a vaccine is still a year away, the senior city dad admits things will not be easy, the recovery time long.
“We have to prepare for the long haul,” Archie says as he adjusts his mask, a disposable surgical one.
The exit plan he has led in drafting aling with village chiefs and other shareholders here had been sent to the mayor already.
He is not sure when the final version would come out.
The slump in the economy?
Archie thinks it might last for at least two years before the economy picks up again.
Historically, he says, no pandemic lasted for only two months.
It might take at least two years before the economy bounces back, he said.
What concerns him also these days are the “senior citizens,” that euphemism for the elderly people who, he says, have been affected by the suspension of Roman Catholic church services, from masses to processions that fall under the category of “mass gatherings” that are legally prohibited.
“If we can allow shopping malls to operate, why can we not allow churches to resume services also?” he asks.
Archie thinks the resumption of services can benefit the emotional and psychological well-being of people.
“The enemy cannot be seen, it is natural for people to turn to an invisible power, too, for help,” he says.