I lived in Davao for most of my life. From birth until the age of around 16, I called Davao home. But then I moved to Manila for college. For the last 8 years, I have called Quezon City my new home and I’ve fallen in love with this new mega city’s quirks. But for the first year or so after moving here, I was amazed at how the boundaries between cities were so easily crossed. In Davao, you had to drive out of the city, where there was a noticeable transition of rural outskirt separated each urban cluster. In Metro Manila, you can pass through 5 or 6 cities on a single 30 minute train ride.
So excuse my misconception, but I thought that Metro Manila was interconnected. I had classmates who came from every city in the Metro and they went between home and campus every day.
But the fragile delineation of Metro Manila’s cities has become painfully obvious to me in during COVID-19. Despite the identity I have fostered for almost the past decade, I am not part of Makati (where I work), Mandaluyong (where I spend most of my money on home good sales), or Pasay (where I go every time I need to visit home to Davao). I am a resident of Quezon City. Thankfully, I am a 24 year old generally healthy citizen. But for other, more vulnerable individuals, this identifier could determine whether they live or die. All because in Quezon City, we have Joy Belmonte as our mayor.
I was able to stomach the pathetic care packages she “decided” to give out to vulnerable citizens. There’s a longstanding tradition in this country to elect officials like personality cults. This is why every public project in Metro Manila looks like local officials attacked it with personal label makers. The language Belmonte has used, that she decided to do her job, is a symptom of this.
But then there’s the viral video of her “ready, set, go” action. She is choreographed, impersonal, and obviously apathetic to the struggle facing her millions of constituents.
Plus there’s the infinite amount of time she has to argue with people who criticize her. Apparently, we as citizens have no right to question why she is appropriating the authority of the City Government as her own personal mandate. If we disagree with her, we can just refuse the services she is providing. As if we don’t deserve to live comfortably and freely if we did not vote for her.
And now, the final straw that has broken this camel’s back is the release of 3 confirmed COVID-19 cases from hospitals due to their mild symptoms. While their discharge from the hospital, as mandated by the DOH, is understandable to reserve precious few medical resources for critical cases, it is absolutely unacceptable that the City government of Quezon City had no plan in place. Other Metro Manila mayors are stepping on the gas to protect the homeless, the vulnerable, and the frontliners. Joy Belmonte is too busy fanning her own ego and telling us to eat cake.
“They’re all confirmed positive. They are not admitted. So, that’s a little shocking and a little disturbing, I think,” Belmonte told ANC.
No, you do not think. You only think of ways to print your name on tote bags, eco bags, waiting sheds, and the sidewalk.
This is the task you volunteered yourself to do. This is the position you ran for. The whole metro has been shut down for at least a week, and you had no time to anticipate that the hospital wards of Quezon City would quickly get overwhelmed? We are talking here of an incredibly infectious disease. All data so far still points to it being mild in an overwhelming majority of cases. However, even mild cases can spread the disease.
In the tight quarters of urban poor communities, COVID-19 will spread like wildfire. Who will we go to to demand answers and accountability, Joy? Where will we turn when the Mayor of Quezon City is acting like it’s her God given right to hold office? How can we expect compassion from a “public servant” who says that confirmed patients of the urban poor will be alright if they have their own room?
And yet you let them leave. Why are we going on manhunts for the sick? Why can’t you have designated any of the multipurpose buildings in this huge city to house the mildly ill infected? Why are we, this massive rich city, so woefully unprepared?
Because we have a Mayor who is actng like doing her job is doing us citizens favor.
Let’s just say it plain: Joy Belmonte, you are doing a bad job. You are not a good mayor. You are letting down everyone who voted for you. Spend more time proving this opinion wrong with action than you do trolling legitimate criticism on Facebook.
Releasing care packages to the vulnerable is not your decision. No project is your project. No initiative is credited to you. All of them are for the people, paid for by the people. Your only job is to conceptualize ways to use public funds, not glorify yourself. Fix this. Any deaths in these communities will be your doing. Our blood is on your hands.
There are things I miss about Davao. A bucolic life where I could rely on my mayor to care for me. Apparently, like fresh fruit and seafood, I took good governance for granted. Joy Belmonte is an example of what is wrong with Philippine politics and another solid vote against the goodness of Metro Manila.