by Fernan A. Gianan
Contrary to last week’s item in this column, Acting Gov. Shirley Abundo is not issuing an order taking over the facilities of the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA), which has denied requests to allow the use of its passenger terminals in Virac and San Andres as quarantine areas for arriving drivers and helpers.
Instead, the task force is insisting on its earlier stand to have the trucks stay put inside the port, with its cargo transferred to other trucks and the drivers sent to RHUs for quarantine until they leave the port for Manila or elsewhere. No arriving cargo truck is supposed to leave the port or worse, roam around the towns.
This could take care of any potential threat from a COVID-19 carrier among the mainland-based drivers.
This positive development, however, could be negated by the fact that several members of law enforcement agencies, who are assigned either here or in the mainland, have been coming and going via the ferry and visiting their families without undergoing the required quarantine.
These travelling police, Coast Guard personnel or Army soldiers are allegedly using their mission orders as quarantine passes, with the knowledge of their colleagues guarding the ports as well as DRRMO personnel.
According to one account, an augmentation force of some 50 police officers arrived from Camp Ola but refused to have themselves and their gear undergo disinfection. One ranking officer allegedly told the PDRRMO disinfection personnel that the policemen are not sick.
Add to this the rumors that some wooden vessels loaded with passengers from the mainland have been sighted trying to dock along the Virac coastline, and you have the possibility that one suspect COVID-19 carrier could slip into the island.
“This is not for posting,” said Provincial Health Officer II Dr. Hazel Palmes as she brandished a consolidated report on PUIs and PUMs before mayors asking for an update on the pandemic in Catanduanes. The only thing she mentioned was the fact that the PHO had sent for testing five (5) specimens from PUIs in Catanduanes.
The good doctor did not even read the total figures which she said are being validated by DOH as the sole authority in release of official reports on COVID-19.
So, some members of the local media, including this writer, were surprised to find the data from the report published on Facebook just hours after the capitol meeting.
Health authorities, as well as the task force headed by Acting Gov. Abundo and Dr. Palmes, are sending a mixed message with their actions, keeping secret the COVID-19 data from the town officials but allowing certain members of the media access to the supposedly confidential information
Viga’s one sack per family quarantine relief program has come under muted criticism from some quarters.
They wonder why the town officials had to resort to the scheme when the municipality is the rice granary of the entire island. Even the NFA provincial office has decided to allow Viga to procure only the maximum of 2,000 bags of rice, the same as the other towns except Virac.
Out of the 11 towns, only San Andres has not withdrawn or bought rice from NFA and instead bought commercial rice for distribution to barangays. Perhaps, Mayor Emeterio Tarin, who has been lauded for his administration’s generous subsidy, would turn to the town’s rice farmers and buy their produce for their own people’s consumption.
RAISING THE DEAD. An old couple were listening to a radio station Sunday morning when this preacher came on and said that he could heal anyone. The preacher said if you wanted to be healed, put one hand on the radio and the other hand on the part that you want healed.
So the old lady puts her left hand on the radio and puts her right hand over her heart and starts singing.
Well, her old man has been drinking and says why not, so he puts his left hand on the radio then puts his right hand down his pants.
His wife looks at him and says “Herman, the man said that he could heal, not raise the dead.”