Villagers under hard lockdown in Davao knocking hard for compassion and support

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DAVAO CITY – When news broke off that Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio on Saturday afternoon placed Barangay 23-C under hard lockdown as coronavirus cases snowballed, some residents sneaked out in the guise of buying essentials and never returned home.

“The situation in this barangay is very severe. This has been the subject of several meetings.  We advise everyone to avoid going to that area for whatever reason,” Duterte-Carpio said during the Friday interview over the city-owned radio station DCDR.

Seemingly, the city’s epicenter of Covid-19 having the highest recorded cases, the government generated data shows from June 28 to July 3 alone, a total of 17 residents tested positive, the youngest infected resident was a 25-day-old patient, while the oldest was 75-year-old.

The village is the home for over 20,000 residents mostly engaged in trading, fishing while a notable segment is a Badjao community, the majority are either Maranaw or Maguindao with transient residents as it hosts to many boarding houses because the village is just a walk away from the city’s commercial districts.

Duterte-Carpio said the downtown barangay has been classified as a high-risk area because of its high daily infection rate “a hard lockdown means that the entire village will undergo a minimum of 14-day quarantine, adding Dabawenyos should not visit the area as long as it is classified as a “hot spot” and “very high risk”, the Mayor elaborated during the Friday interview.

Barangay Captain Alimodin Usman known as ‘Kap Wating” in a chance interview with Newsline said, “the residents were scared because they believe that everyone will undergo a swab test and that scares them, while others understand they are very cooperative with the effort of the city”.

The city government and the barangay leadership have agreed to place the village under hard lockdown in the hope of stopping the spread of the virus in the area which as of July 2, accounted for 90 of the 452 positive cases in the city and two of the 28 deaths.

Footbath, one of the preventive measures that Barangay 23-C installed to help prevent the spread of coronavirus pandemic.-Photo courtesy: Facebook

On its Facebook page, Barangay 23-C posted on Friday it stated “This hard lockdown has been decided by our higher local government in Davao, our beloved Barangay Chairman Alimodin “Wating” A. Usman, Al-hadj did his best not to put us on this situation but what we need now is to face this issue at once, hopefully. We believe also that through your cooperation and will, this Covid-19 will no longer exist in our barangay, one day”.

The village officials explained, “We want also to announce that our barangay council and other agencies in the city of Davao are continually fixing things to help you then in terms of your daily life needs. This is to clearly say that we are considering your status in life especially there are numerous people living and going to be affected such as our vendors, employees, fishermen, in-house construction workers, senior citizens, of course, our mommies with baby and more children and so on and so forth”.

Protocols to follow under lockdown

City Health Officer, Dr. Joy Villafuerte, said the lockdown entails the protocols followed under the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), including movement restrictions of people.

“The residents will be confined in the barangay. Meaning, no one is allowed to enter or go out until the spread of the virus is stopped,” said Villafuerte.

She said the Davao City Social Welfare and Development Office (CSWDO) has been tasked to provide the residents with daily food ration, including psychosocial interventions.

Security forces will be deployed in the area to ensure that lockdown measures are followed, officials said.

Village frontliners conduct the house to house survey for the food distribution and headcount of residents.-Photo Courtesy: Barangay 23_C

Cat and mice game

Usman said while the barangay is doing its best to contain community transmission “There are those who do not wear masks, defy social-distancing while frontliners are not on sight”.

“Pag wala silang makitang umiikot at naga-ronda lumalabas sila, umiikot sila sa bahay ng mga friends nila, na walang face mask, walang physical distancing, matitigas talaga ang ulo, at madami dito mga elders, siguro bored na sila sa bahay nalang since nag-ECQ,”Usman revealed.

(If they do not see frontliners moving around, they go out to their friends, no face mask, no physical distancing, hard-headed especially the elders, maybe they are bored already since they just stayed at home since the ECQ).

Recently, of the 73 residents who underwent a swab test, ten were tested positive Usman revealed while in the next round only one tested positive of the 70 tested.

Those who were tested positive are now is the isolation facility and being treated, he added.

Stigma and discrimination

When residents learned that they will be placed under hard lockdown, many of them went out, some in the guise of buying essentials while others sneaked out through the nearby alley.

On its Facebook page, Barangay 23-C posted on Friday “We are also saddened that we are going on “hard lockdown”, but we can find that our movements and those living outside barangay such as our workers from different companies and almost all of us were being discriminated by those from higher classes in our barangay, people kept avoiding us”.

Usman said, “many went home to their provinces despite the hard lockdown, many of them left their houses because they are afraid to undergo swab test”.

Just before the hard lockdown was implemented, Usman said there was misinformation which spread through various social media platforms “Ang nakarating sa kanila na balita, magbahay-bahay at mag swab, nakakatakot, kaya bago ma-implement ang hard lockdown, yong may mga sasakyan umalis, yong iba umalis din (They heard the news that swab test will be done to every household, they were scared, so, just before the hard lockdown was implemented, those who have cars went out while others just followed suit).

According to reports, some went home to as far as the province of Lanao, about thirty percent (30%) left the village.

A government doctor conducting the swab test in covid-19 infected village.-Contributed photo

Understanding and compassion

With people staying at their homes and economic activity temporarily stopped, the city social services department is distributing food to the residents, Usman said.

While people understand the city’s action, the village people are living through the ration as only a few families can fend for themselves.

Going out of the village is impossible but the biggest problem of the residents is the discrimination from people outside, everyone is scared because they are from Barangay 23-C.

“Yong iba kasi parang na feel nila na galit ang mga tao sa labas kasi marami kaming postitive, yong iba naman, nilalait sila kasi taga 23-C (Others feel that people from outside are mad at them due to the high cases, while others degrade hem because they are from 23-C),” Usman added.

Melona, 25, a resident of the village told Newsline she has friends who are not even responding to her call “natakot siguro na magka-covid-19, kahit tawag ko hindi na nila sinasagot (maybe they are afraid of getting infected with COVID-19, that they do not even answer my calls).

In his Facebook post, Barangay Captain Usman asked the villagers: Neighbors please do not sneak out, we are just on lockdown, no swab testing, only quarantine for 14-days to get rid of COVID in our place. Who will receive the relief (goods) if you escape? Stay Calm and Stay at home.

With village communities interconnected to one another through either an alley of a stairway, Usman said the village maintains the footbath in every community entrance, and the body mist is placed.

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The village frontliners want to have personal protective equipment (PPE) and other provisions that will protect them from community transmission.

While residents endure staying at home due to the hard lockdown, they knock even harder to the hearts of people outside their community to throw support on them, and, show compassion not hatred nor discrimination.-Editha Z Caduaya/Newsline

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