DAVAO CITY, Philippines (UPDATED) — 2020 may be the year of the pandemic, but there are people and events that defined the year Davao City went through this pandemic.
Baby Lyanna’s death raises questions on pandemic protocol
When seven month-old Lyanna Joie Palarca, born with a congenital diaphragmatic hernia, was hospitalized for pneumonia, this turned into a nightmare when she was forced to move to the Southern Philippine Medical Center as part of COVID-19 medical protocol. She died due to her delicate case last April 27, and her swab test came out negative, raising questions from her parents and netizens on the manner of implementing protocols with consideration on specific cases.
Badjao’s escape brings cultural sensitivity in focus
Badjao girl Arani Hajiba bolted out from a COVID-19 treatment center last May and triggered online bashing on her perceived “ignorance”, but this also raised questions from social workers and development workers about cultural sensitivity.
Davao Conyo gets serious
When local social media vlogger Davao Conyo (Philip Hernandez) posted that he could not spread “good vibes” amidst police abuses and lack of plans to address the pandemic, his followers turned against him, even going low as to suggest the city should stop supporting his mother’s medical needs. Hernandez has not backed down, and when one netizen said he should stop using the name Davao for misrepresentation, his reply was “opinions shouldn’t be location-based.”
Chickenjoy cheers and jeers
Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio distributed 10,000 packs of Jollibee Chickenjoy to reward district clusters with the least cases of COVID-19 during the enhanced community quarantine. This raised questions from Davao academe about how the city instills discipline and rewards on a serious health issue, while the Kilusang Mayo Uno said distributing cash and food relief to jobless workers in Davao ensures “everyone has joy”.
Bogart explores human rights
Another Davao media personality, Bogart the Explorer (Marco Antonio Ho), divided his followers when he posted on his page his stand against the Anti-Terror Bill, stating the case of how terror plays with fear and danger but “sacrificing innocents” is equally dangerous, “not sustainable, let alone justifiable”.
Haran attack and fake news
The Manobo Lumad under sanctuary in UCCP Haran had their share of receiving attacks and disinformation this year. January saw a swarm of paramilitary breaking in Haran to “rescue” them, which was diffused later by negotiations with local and provincial officials. The Lumad also dispelled fake news circulating that they had buried an infant dying from COVID-patient and secretly admitted a patient in a hospital.
Is a rally with chairs a rally?
Plastic chairs in Freedom Park has become a constant fixture that the Davao City Police set up to enforce physical distancing in anti-Duterte protest rallies. This has forced rallyists to cancel their SONA rally and opted to hold protest marches on the September 21 Martial Law commemoration and on Bonifacio Day. On Human Rights Day, the rallyists entered Freedom Park and placed photos of human rights victims on the chairs.
When a safety code breaks everyone’s patience
Applying and implementing the city’s QR safety code turned out to be a security and safety issue. IT experts questioned its lack of data privacy, while the public become impatient with its lag and glitches. The city government has reworked the safety system, yet its implementation is still limited due to limited gadgets.
Protocols, protocols, protocols
November was a testy month for Davaoeños as they see the Davao City Government implement protocols that stretched their patience. From curfews to checkpoints inspecting QR codes and pass that stretched traffic night and day, plus coffins in checkpoints angered people instead of scaring them. The police were reminded to review how to implement the city’s health protocols after the public raised a howl.
Brigada News Davao’s anchor Jun Digamon has been a gadfly with his tactless tirades on radio and on his Facebook page, hitting anything from abuse of authority to crime to his wild claim that COVID-19 is harmless. He channels local Tulfo justice, but it’s not journalism.
Doctors calling time out
The medical community in Davao stayed silent for a long time, but in November they called for a timeout with rising cases of COVID-19 in the city that has exhausted the health frontliners, and a need for the City Government to review its protocols in the pandemic. The city reverted to general community quarantine afterward.
Dodong Solis, radio broadcasting crusader (1961-2020)
Davao media lost veteran broadcaster Mario Maximo ‘Dodong’ Solis on October 13 who died of cardiac arrest at age 58. Dodong was a radio crusader, championing the cause of the marginalized in his daily broadcast in Radio Mindanao Network and later in Radyo ni Juan, in which he also acted as station manager in both stations.
Alvin Luque, NDF Mindanao spokesperson (1973-2020)
Former Bayan leader turned National Democratic Front Mindanao spokesperson Alvin Luque (aka Ka Joaquin Jacinto) was killed on Human Rights Day. The irony is not lost as the NDF and activists recount how Luque has faced trumped-up charges as leader of Bayan until he came to decide to join the armed movement. This was, in Luque’s words, a “life to make my mark…and a death… that is well worth bearing”.