"I wonder what Secretary Duque has been smoking lately."
Whom are we to believe now?
Shall we take the word of the Health Secretary and Chairman of the National Covid 19 Inter-Agency Task Force who said at the Senate hearing on government's response to the outbreak that we are now experiencing the second wave of this pandemic?
Or shall we believe, instead, his co-chair, the DILG Secretary who insisted that we are still on the first wave, an assertion which no less than the Executive Secretary conceded?
Perhaps we should just pass this off as some kind of a difference in interpretation by the experts of our Covid 19 state of affairs, as the presidential spokesperson noted in his daily press briefing. There, he somewhat grudgingly said that we are still within the first wave since the "first wave" the Health Secretary described was not a wave at all but just a wavelet.
What are we to do with such a confused and confusing barrage of statements coming from the highest officials of the land? Are we to stay calm, stay at home and scrounge around for funds to carry us through the next few days (maybe weeks or months)? These people to whom we have entrusted our being should be very clear.
What, too, are we to make of the billions of pesos allocated for us to Heal-As-One which was supposed to alleviate the plight of the poorest of the poor for at least three months, assist others (middle class, OFWs, seniors, etc), expand our capacity to test, trace, isolate and treat any and all Covid 19 cases coming our way, symptomatic or not, and the billions more which have to be provided to restart the economy which has been on downtime for months and get businesses specially SMSEs back on their feet?
So, what are we to make of all their projections, plans and projects to get the country back on track after last Wednesday's sordid exchange which only showed the sorry state our supposed response to the pandemic is more than two months after the lock down? If our top officials cannot even clearly and definitively say whether we are on the first or second wave of this pandemic, then it stands to reason that all of those supposed preparations for us to "flatten the curve and get the country back on its feet" are illusory or, at best, half done.
Otherwise, we will not have those continuing complaints about lack or inadequate testing, tracing, isolation and treatment capacity. Otherwise, we will not have thousands of OFWs stranded in Metro Manila hotels or in cruise ships in Manila Bay waiting for test results before they can be released to go back to their provinces and their families. Otherwise, we will not have residual complaints about recipients not receiving their share of the social amelioration funds. Otherwise, we will not have workers walking-to-work for hours as no public transportation is in place. Otherwise, we will not have allegations of over pricing, hoarding and other illegal activities associated with the most basic pillar of our response - testing and tracing - coming from no less than those who have themselves been drinking from the same DoH and DoH troughs in both the public and private parts of our health system.
Indeed, with such exchanges, complaints and allegations flying all over the place are we going to take comfort in these administration denizens' advise that pretty soon, maybe ten days from now, we shall already have a testing capacity of 30,000 tests per day and by June or July we shall have already tested two percent (2%) of the entire population? Are we going to take comfort in their pronouncements that by the end of this month we shall already have in place the necessary equipment, personnel and facilities to handle whatever spikes which may come our way? Are we going to take comfort that as we open up our public transport system, our workplaces and other sectors where people are due to congregate the guidance coming from these officials has been well understood and the necessary protocols and measures to ensure that a third, fourth, fifth or whatever wave which may come along will be properly addressed?
After this sordid exchange among these officials, can we still believe what we hear from them or just take their words with a grain of salt? And if for some reason we do, can we expect people to obey and just let this sorry episode slip away as if nothing happened? What indeed are we supposed to believe and do under the circumstances after two and a half months in lock down?
Maybe, as one of the hosts of a morning radio show said, we should just ask Health Secretary Francisco Duque III what he has been smoking or drinking lately so we can probably procure the same or ask for some from his cohorts at the DoH. That way, we can also get into the virtual reality that he has, by his words and actions, consigned himself to after pronouncing the first three detected last January 30 as the first wave we were able to flatten by end February. After which, his epidemiologist cohort - a certain John Wong – said we got into our second wave after a fifth case was detected last March 6.
That's how strong and transmissible that smoke or drink was.