"Here are two issues we must closely watch and focus on."
We don’t know how long this pandemic will pin us down and constantly make us worried and uncertain of the future. Before the situation becomes half normal, full normal, or new normal, we must focus our minds on the grave problems which will confront us once COVID-19 leaves us frustrated, bewildered, and confused.
While our government officials, particularly President Rodrigo Duterte and some of our national and local public officials, are busy doing their best to contain the spread and attend to those infected by the virus, many other government officials and employees are on “forced” vacation at their own homes. There are also millions of private citizens who are likewise in isolation since most of the business establishments where they are employed are closed.
Put together, these individuals in public and private institutions constitute the biggest pool of talents and experience, which should be harnessed in addressing the myriad, terrifying, and complex problems that will confront us in the near and foreseeable future.
Even if some government and private sector operations are being gradually restored, the challenges of bringing back the country’s economy and social situation will remain formidable.
The most awesome and immediate concerns which should have our attention are:
First, the national economy.
Rebuilding, reconstructing, and reviving the national economy will demand immediate and riveting attention. The pandemic will render over 50 people of the people impoverished, desperate and destitute. Massive employment and livelihood programs need to be initiated to revive the hopes and regain the confidence of these people. Since most of the business enterprises would have suffered tremendous losses, they might not be able to rehire many of their former employees. Creating jobs for these displaced manpower representing 40 percent of the citizenry, will require effective solutions
The rich and well-to-do families comprising about 10 percent will strive to recoup the enormous profits they lost. Hopefully, they will be a bit more conscious of their social responsibilities and to their employees, they ,might be more kind and generous.
Secondly, the deteriorating USA-China relations.
The most disturbing and ominous concern confronting the world today, even in the midst of the pandemic, is the looming confrontation between the United States of American and the People’s Republic of China.
The health crisis may have set back China’s ambition to dominate the world by 2049. Xi wants to make the centennial founding anniversary of the People’s Republic of China glorious and memorable.
Both President Donald Trump and President Xi Jinping are striving to keep their belligerence on hold while outwardly eager to settle their differences through bilateral negotiations.
Keen observers of the geopolitical situation are, however, apprehensive that a shooting war is not remote. They point out to the South China Sea, the Taiwan Strait, the Hong Kong protest, and the border disputes between China and India as among the flashpoints where an armed confrontation could occur.
Xi Jinping is the world’s most powerful leader today. His moves or decisions could be reassuring or disastrous. China is undergoing sever tests in endurance. Xi is wrestling with internal problems such as corruption, bank runs, the defections of some of its richest citizens, and increasing demonstrations and protests.
Trump and his advisers are blaming past US presidents for helping China gain the recognition of the World Trade Organization and the United Nations which propelled its economic development and growth. They blamed Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter, George Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama for giving China opportunities to gain economy ascendancy and military power in less than three decades. They blame the former US chief executives for failing to understand the true nature and motives of the Chinese Communist Party such as China’s determined efforts to expand the frontiers of communism while reneging on its promise to adopt capitalist practices and norms.
Like his predecessors, Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping, Xi subscribes to the Marxist theory that empowering the proletariat is the best way to create an ideal world.
What Xi forgot was the infallible lesson in history which showed that no dictator or tyrannical regime ever lasted long without the consent of the governed. Communism pretends to champion and represent the proletariat while keeping them in bondage or in chains. Xi and the standing committee of the Politburo made the communist party the supreme overlord to which everyone is required to worship. They must render it unquestioning loyalty and obedience, even as it offers no moral values or principles to justify its godhood.
A regime will not last if it is running under a complete political vacuum. It has no foundation to stand on. Let us hope that Xi accept the reality that most of the citizens of the world, including most of his own people, love their freedom and will die for their dignity and their souls.
These are the priority and primary concerns which should receive our attention while we are in various states of quarantine and isolation.
The best and brightest minds in our country and the entire citizenry should all be prepared to overcome these disturbing concerns.
The man who should embrace these challenges and call on all concerned to assume their respective responsibilities and obligations is President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, the man of the hour.
Mr. Ernesto G. Banawis is formerly general manager of the Philippine News Agency.