The country’s local chief executives’ (LCEs) ability in managing crisis has been put to test by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Subjected to the same yardstick as the other LCEs, Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio did impress quite a few.
Mayor Sara, who delivered her 2020 State of the City Address (SOCA) on Monday, has been tough as nails with her decisions and measures to reduce the threat of Covid-19. Most of these counter measures were even seen as a step ahead of the provisions of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for Emerging and Infectious Diseases.
Despite scoring well in this test, some Dabawenyos are still not satisfied with what she is doing right now.
As what others say “there is no perfect leader” especially when fighting with an invisible enemy.
Edge Davao asked some Dabawenyos in sectors like environment, consumer, and food and hospitality industry to evaluate the mayor with scores from 1 (lowest) to 10 (highest) based on her handling of the Covid-19 situation.
No sugarcoating, just brutal honesty.
“There is a clamor now to rate her leadership due to her seemingly knee-jerk decisions regarding stricter movements of people due to Covid-19. However, leaders all over the world are being judged on their decisions or acts of omissions. U.S. President Trump I believe lost the election on his handling or mishandling this crisis,” said Wenifredo Gorrez, former executive director of non-government consumer group Konsumo-Dabaw.
Gorrez added that the mayor is now getting negative radio reports due to the people’s reaction to her latest decisions on ways to deal with the virus. He said people complained on the basis of their personal interest, yet, he is optimistic that the mayor’s decisions are meant to promote the common good in the long run.
“Her decisions are even mild to what I propose such as a two weeks total lockdown of the city. Drastic problems need drastic solutions. DIli ni puwede inday-indayon kay ang masa dili mutuo kung dili gahi ang pamaagi to make them understand the gravity of the problem,” he said.
Gorrez gave Mayor Sara a rate of 8.8 for her decisive leadership, strong political will and earful grasp of the people’s needs, from the poorest squatters to richest businessmen.
Benjamin Lizada, president of the Restaurant Owners Association of Davao City, Inc. (RestoDC), gave the mayor a high grade of 9.
Lizada lauded the mayor for acting very fast when the first lockdown was declared in March and barred the entry of all flights.
“Kana gyud ang first na angay buhaton. Sakto to nga decision. Bisag tuod naglisud na ang mga na stranded sa gawas, she stood her ground. She had wanted to continue barring the entry of flights but the national government ruled that only the IATF can bar flight entry to any place in the country,” he said.
He also noted that the mayor is trying her best to be accessible at all times by conducting daily updates that have since become twice weekly, which according to Lizada is still very important.
Lizada also commended Mayor Sara for being uncompromising but still open to new ideas. He said while she has her pool of medical experts and economic advisers, she heeds other suggestions.
“Our association (RestoDC) and I personally, submitted recommendations and they were implemented. If she cannot legally act on them, she refers the matter to the right body – oftentimes the City Council. And we’ve met with city council leaders on numerous occasions. As we still do,” he said.
Lizada added that the mayor also consults other groups. He cited that some four or five months ago she commissioned a reputable company to do a Davao City Covid Assessment and Impact Report. “I have yet to hear of an LGU leader who has done this. Just recently the report was shared with the private sector association leaders and key city officials. She attended this briefing from start to finish and addressed questions/comments. The key output of that presentation: formation of 3 clusters to assist the LGU in whatever way they can. I hope the mayor will cause the immediate formation of the clusters.”
Lizada believes that the mayor does not favor any group. He said she has her medical consultants but she makes herself available to all.
“That last two or three days I know that she had met with a group of Dabawenyo doctors who wants a lockdown. But she also met with a different set of Dabawenyo doctors who presented a different approach to addressing the infection issue. Lastly, perhaps because of these openness to new ideas, she is flexible. She comes out with her own E.O.s the IATF community quarantine classification notwithstanding,” he said.
Lizada cited one negative factor which was the drag racing event in Davao City last October 18, 2020 that was held amidst the easing of quarantine measures.
“But if the approval of an event – which flies against practically every provision of the IATF quarantine guidelines, can happen, it is not impossible that special favors – not only in similar events, are being extended. I hope this propensity to accommodate has since been addressed,” he said.
All in all, for Lizada the mayor is exhibiting exceptional leadership qualities during these difficult times.
“It’s no mean feat to be a leader at this time,” Lizada added.
Meanwhile, environmental group Interface Development Interventions (IDIS) Inc., rated Mayor Sara’s leadership and handling of Covid-19 with 6.9 grade.
Chinkie Peliño-Golle, executive director of IDIS, said the group commended the mayor for her leadership competence, providing directive to department heads, fast tracking of budget releases for all LGU employees and auxiliary work force.
“Also very good Info dissemination through disaster radio, responsiveness in various levels providing info at various media platforms, and issuance of EO for IATG with strict protocols,” she said.
However, IDIS perceived the “unclear” and changing local policies on Covid-19 as negative point for the mayor. Other negative points cited are weak handling and monitoring of public activities during pandemic resulting to increasing number of cases; QR issues with problem on its future management and privacy issues; poor waste (including medical wastes) monitoring and management; and re-alignment of budget for important programs and activities which could have been conducted observing strict protocols.