Nice move, Abalos; Being vaccinated not a license to be careless

METROPOLITAN MANILA DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY (MMDA) chair Benhur Abalos made the right move in requiring candidates for the 2022 elections to first secure a permit before conducting any motorcade or caravan not only with the MMDA but also from the concerned local government units (LGU), for purposes of proper coordination and minimizing, if not totally eradicating, traffic gridlocks.

Under the rules, Abalos said the MMDA shall regulate, evaluate, and issue permits for motorcades and/or caravans in the major thoroughfares of the NCR while the concerned local government units will be in charge of such activities on all other roads.

Motorcades and/or caravans shall only be permitted during weekends and holidays between 5 a.m. to 10 a.m.and organizers of these events would need to apply for a Roadway Private Utilization Permit (RPUP) with the MMDA and/or the concerned LGUs.

In their applicatdion, they should state the name of the event, organizations involved, date, time, route, estimated number of motor vehicles, program of activities, and other relevant details.

Organizers of the motorcades and/or caravans shall comply with relevant laws such as Republic Act No. 4136 (Land Transportation and Traffic Code), rules and regulations of the Land Transportation Office and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board and the guidelines of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases pertaining to the COVID-19 minimum public health standards.

Any violation of the undertaking or material misrepresentation in the application shall be a ground to suspension, cancellation or revocation of RPUP and road closures are not allowed and the motorcade or caravan can only occupy up to two lanes.

If there are no regulations on motorcades and caravans, imagine how chaotic traffic would be once the campaign period officially begins, with local candidates also conducting the same kind of activities.

Thanks to Chairman Abalos for putting order in the streets.

It’s scary how Facebook these days is so full of posts showing people attending Christmas parties, highlighted by drinking and karaoke sessions. left and right and without face masks, while the country remains in the middle of a pandemic.

Just recently, the Department of Health (DOH )has reiterated its stance against holding Christmas gatherings amid the pandemic. In fact, employers are being encouraged to instead hold their parties virtually, in lieu of physical attendance.

There is a reason why indoor activities are highly discouraged and open air activities are being suggested instead.

The DOH warns that indoor parties or gatherings “could lead to an aggressive speed in transmission of COVID-19.”

Health spokesperson Maria Rosario Vergeire in fact told a media forum:”These Christmas parties might be a cause for a super spreader event and we do not want that to happen, because it might cause further infections in the community.” The DOH suggested other alternatives, such as online parties or making the gatherings exclusive only among those belonging to the same household.

Note that as of December17, the total Coronavirus cases in the country has already reached 2,837,464. As of 4 p.m. of December 17, a total of 582 new cases were recorded nationwide and while at least 494 patients brought the total recoveries to 2,776,727, the death toll has climbed to 50,570, with 74 new reported fatalities.

The latest DOH bulletin showed that the total active infections stood at 10,167. Of the number, 1,815 are severe and 383 are in critical condition. The latest data also showed that 22 percent of 3,600 intensive care unit (ICU) beds for COVID-19 patients nationwide are in use currently.

While the DOH reported that the number of COVID-19 vaccine doses administered by the government has already reached over 100 million, the number of individuals who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 is at 43 million. Our country’s population is almost 12 million.

To top it all, the DOH has said it already detected the COVID-19 Omicron variant in two travelers who recently arrived in the Philippines from Japan. The first patient is a Filipino returning from an overseas trip, who came from Japan last December 1, while the other case is a Nigerian national who arrived from Nigeria last November 30.

Clearly, COVID-19 is still very much around and yet, many are acting like it is gone and everything is back to normal. Hundreds continue getting infected on a daily basis and even landing in severe or critical condition or worse, dying from the virus.

I can only shake my head when I hear people saying it’s alright to go maskless, eat side by side and attend gatherings in enclosed spaces because they are already vaccinated. It’s hard to understand why they think that the vaccines provide immunity when government authorities repeatedly say -and all we have to do is look around- that the vaccines only provide protection from being severe if one gets the infection.

Let me cite a very concrete example. Charlie Dungo, the very amiable head of Manila’s department of tourism, recovered just recently from COVID-19. He was already fully vaccinated when he got hit by the Delta variant and fell critically ill. He landed in the intensive care unit of the Sta. Ana Hospital where he stayed for 26 days.

Charlie says he could only think of two incidents when he took off his facemask. On both occasions, it was just to eat. One was in a provincial visit and the other was during a wedding reception.

We must bear in mind that even if we have been fully vaccinated and even given the booster shot, we can still get infected with COVID-19. No one is immune from it.

Just because the number of infections continue to decline does not mean that we can be reckless. Remember that the worldwide pandemic began with just one infected person. Just one.

Jokjok (from Christopher Crisostomo of Malabon City)

PEDRO: Ate, kapag wala ka bang tenga, maghihikaw ka?

ATE: Syempre hinde!

PEDRO: Eh pag wala kang daliri magsisingsing ka?

ATE: Syempre hindi din!

PEDRO: Eh bakit ka nagba-bra? Feel mo lang? ganon?

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