March 24, 2021 at 12:00 am
"The people are not dumb. They can see who is working for their best interest and who are not. They can identify who are doers and who are mere talkers."
Government officials should stop blaming the people for the surge in COVID cases, whatever wave it is or whatever strain or variant may have caused the terrible rise in infections, especially in the Mega Manila areas which have now been put into some kind of movement “bubble.”
We are so good at inventing names for what actions and reactionary measures we do. We love coming up with acronyms and abbreviations for every project, plan, or program, but heck, do we even bother whether these are well thought out in the first place, or whether they are implementable in the Philippine context?
We keep hearing our officials, especially the befuddled if not bewitched Secretary of Health keep blaming the “pasaways” who do not, according to him, strictly follow the prescribed health protocols. In the Monday night televised meeting of select cabinet officials, he was even demonstrating how many were wearing the required plastic face shield improperly, raising it above their eyes and lowering the same only when entering buildings.
To begin with, we are perhaps the only country where face shields are required in public, on top of face masks. Since January 2020, everybody and his mother in Taiwan has been wearing face masks, but never face shields, which only front line health workers administering to infectious diseases use. But as of this writing, there are only 1,006 Covid cases here, almost all of which were imported, some from the Philippines. Only ten people have died, and there has hardly been any community transmission.
By the way, it was only on Monday, March 22, when vaccination began in Taiwan, with no less than the Premier and the brilliant Health Minister being first in the line for AstraZeneca shots, followed by doctors and nurses and other front liners. President Tsai Ing Wen will await the locally developed Taiwanese vaccine, which three local companies are perfecting.
One has only to read the highly respected former health secretary, Esperanza Alcantara Cabral, certainly not a “dilawan”, and is in fact the first cousin of PRRD’s biggest listed financial contributor, Tomas Alcantara, who rued, I am sure with heavy heart, that “we are ten steps back from square one.”
Secretary Espie described the present state of our pandemic management very vividly thus: “Square One was when we had just shut down the economy (one year and 10 days ago) and people had spare change in their pockets…when the private sector was able to provide financial protection to their employees and spend billions to help others; when hospitals were full of doctors and health care workers who though scared were fresh and eager to do battle.”
But she says doctors and nurses are now tired, having given their utmost, even to the point of sacrificing their lives. There will be no further “ayudas” from government because our coffers are depleted, as Secretary Carlos Dominguez explained in last Monday night’s televised meeting with the president.
Which is why people are now angry and desperate, terrified at the resurgence and fearful of whatever variants they cannot comprehend. Legislators are raising their hackles and blaming the government, but what good will that do now?
What I find so difficult to accept is when officials from their well-appointed ivory towers have the temerity to blame the people for not following their prescribed health protocols.
I was back in the country for two months since the Christmas holidays, and I have seen with my own eyes how the public has been following the protocols. Sure there are those who lift the useless face shield especially when they cross pedestrian lanes, but these are open spaces. And in today’s sweltering heat back home, those plastic contraptions are truly asphyxiatingly bothersome.
I have seen how they follow physical distancing as they line up for public transport where they have to seat themselves apart from each other, thus lessening mobility, suffering the intense heat of plastic separators which jeepney drivers have had to put up just to be able to make “pasada” and bring some meager food to their families by nighttime.
Now health officials tell us to wear masks even when inside homes, as if that was something easy to do. Have they been inside an urban poor hovel where the living room and the dining room are one and the same, where eating tables are so small, and the same transform into their sleeping quarters at night, all in a ten- or twelve-square meter area that is as hot as hell?
Thank whoever that we have Charlie Galvez and Vince Dizon, and our local mayors helping out a beleaguered health secretary who cannot seem to do anything right, and have to endure the perorations of official and self-appointed spokespersons whose verbal antics further stoke the anger and instill more despair rather than calm a population already at wit’s end.
Stop the blame game, at least for now. There will be time for a public accounting, with the 2022 elections just about 13 months from now. And assuming that as announced (was the president joking?) that some of these cabinet people will be running for senator, watch for the avalanche of public opprobrium.
The people are not dumb. They can see who is working for their best interest and who are not. They can identify who are doers and who are mere talkers. They know who have genuine concern and empathy and those who only feign compassion.
But please, stop blaming the people.