March 20, 2023


As Covid-19 cases in the Cordillera, particularly in Baguio continue to rise, so are the questions, anger, and frustration from a public that is still anxious of when life can get back to normal.
Citizens were quick to point fingers of blame to the authorities, as they claim that cases have increased because they allowed tourists to come up to Baguio and have been lax in the entry of non-residents. To put the blame on tourists is premature and without clear evidence.
The fixation on numbers sans explanation of how this came about is what needs to be clarified so that the public could understand and come up with sound conclusions about how this city is coping with the pandemic in the local front.
While it is understandable that the spike is something that should worry us, members of the city contact tracing team have clarified that compared with other regions, Baguio has an adequate supply of testing kits that helped in detecting and tracing the carriers of the virus – hence the increase in cases with 2,546 cases as of press time Friday. Close to 2,000 have recovered while the rest are active cases with 50 deaths since the community quarantine in March.
We find merit in the claims of the members of the contact tracing team, who have to explain the details behind the numbers. Data on active cases and recoveries have shown that Baguio has a high recovery rate and most of the cases are only exhibiting mild symptoms.
We do not intend to downplay the numbers but these are best appreciated when properly explained.
The contact tracing team members said that Baguio is fortunate because its leadership is able to source out kits to detect the virus. They said local government unit’s response to the crisis remains to be an issue of leadership – that one not only has to be proactive but also needs to have ability to wiggle through the web of bureaucracy to be able to get the response we need. In other words, the Filipino trait of being maabilidad played a major role in why residents of Baguio, and recently, residents of La Trinidad, Tuba, and Itogon were given more test kits.
The private sector, especially corporate sponsors that donated thousand kits also played a role in augmenting the number of test kits.
While this is laudable, the impression we get is that local chief executives who are not as aggressive can be left out.
This should not be the case. Expanded testing should not be about which local executive has clout, who can pull strings, and who is more persuasive.
No one should be left out.
Local governments that do not have enough funds in their Covid-19 response need help from the national government. Within their territories are people who also need to be assured that regardless of how rich or poor their LGU is, government is there to extend its services.
Let not the response to this health crisis be an issue of who has more strings to pull but a matter of giving adequate response and foresight despite limitations.