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Bacolod City, Philippines Saturday, September 5, 2020
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‘Laton-Laton Festival’

Rock & Refuge

The Laton-Laton festival meme has been doing the rounds of social media for months now. I ignored it then because not only is it insulting but it also contributes to the demoralization of our city officials, some of whom, have obviously been hard at work since the start of this pandemic.

But the actuations of our officials are clearly insulting to us, particularly the endorsement of the city council to hold a cock fighting derby while we are at our wits end to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

The gall to even propose and endorse the same to the national IATF for approval when all around us, cases continue to rise and pockets in barangays are under lockdown because of the spread.

Worse is, it came at the heels of the new executive order that adds stringent measures on top of the protocols under the General Community Quarantine status we are in. The EO states that gathering will be allowed with a maximum number of 10 people in attendance and yet, here is our council endorsing a mass gathering of a hundred times more than that probably if the event will be allowed.

The big “if” is if someone in the NIATF is idiotic enough to allow it. But hey, if we have idiots here in our own fiefdom, then who can say there is no up there who isn’t? After all, they’ve issued so many idiotic policies that counters what we have set in place so many times.

This passage is also insulting to churchgoers who had to abide with the pronouncement of Bacolod Bishop PatricioBuzon that services are halted in support of the limit-the-movement-of-people objective which the city council obviously does not support, otherwise, why even vote to endorse the event.

This proposition to hold the cockfight is wrong in so many angles because it was not that long when the Matina Davao derby last March became the source of 11 COVID deaths in that city, quarantining 400 others and over a thousand more as secondary contacts.

Of course, the cockpit owner who is said to be a close friend of the president came out unscathed by the controversial holding of the derby but the promoter, Dory Du, died of Covid that same month. Is local promoter Ricardo Noble not afraid to follow Du’s fate?

Councilor Al Victor Espino who authored the resolution said they believe pushing cockfighting activities will help those employed in the cockfighting industry. Yeah right! Pushing for tourism events will also help those employed in that industry, yet we ban all forms of events. So where is the logic in that? Ah maybe the seeds of the ‘Laton-Laton Festival’ really ingrained itself in the minds of our councilors and I will not be surprised if they will find a way to hold it.

I wonder if the decision was unanimous and I really would like to know who voted in its favor because we hear a lot of them cry how tiring management of repatriates and local transmissions have become and I can imagine that. Or how some of them invoke the Lord’s name in their interviews that we need prayers to get us out of this crisis, yet if they voted favourably, then they are all hypocrites!

Ah but they truly are hypocrites because now they pass on the buck to the NIATF knowing that if the latter will not agree, they cannot be faulted for not pushing with all their might. After all, Councilor Dindo Ramos pointed out that under the MGCQ guidelines, leisure and amusement places are allowed to operate. Perhaps he was sleeping when Bacolod was placed under GCQ.

But again, the issue is not even whether the NIATF will agree to it or not. The issue is how could the council even mull the idea and endorse the same given the situation we are in, whether under GCQ or MGCQ. To say that organizers will ensure minimum health protocols are followed is bull because we can’t even implement the same just outside our City Health Office where hundreds have been lining up daily and in close proximity to each other,making it open season for the virus to spread.

As of last count, partial test results from the Weekend Timeout mass testing showed that over 300 residents of Bacolod already tested positive. This is on top of the official numbers dished out by the Department of Health which puts us already at the top in our region and why we have been elevated to GCQ.

If that is not reason enough, so many businesses have since folded and many are unemployed, not just due to the million dollar cockfight industry, but did the council act on it?

Hours have been spent debating on how to balance the pleas of the medical and the business communities. How many councillors were even there to discuss that the survival of the cockfighting industry is surprisingly more imperative than the health of our frontliners and the general public and the suffering of the business sector?

Oh well, Forrest Gump was right on point. Indeed, “stupid is as stupid does.”*

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