IT’s sickening how the Yellows and those claiming to be better leaders of the country have politicized the issue of controlling the Covid-19 pandemic.
Instead of uniting just once so we can better meet this threat, even really know-nothing politicians like Vice President Leni Robredo and Sen. Nancy Binay seem to think that they could hog the headlines — for the 2022 elections of course — by taking potshots at the government’s efforts to contain the disease.
Binay, for instance, went for the quotable rather than substance by claiming that the government has had a ningas cogon attitude in combating the pandemic.
Doesn’t she read the papers, watch TV programs, in which officials of the Duterte task force on the pandemic have been briefing the nation almost daily on what it’s been doing since it was organized last year? Hasn’t she heard that government is currently deploying 52 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech, Oxford-AstraZeneca and the Chinese-made vaccines? Hasn’t she heard that government has firmed up purchase orders for 20 million doses of the Moderna vaccine, 30 million of the US-developed, Indian-manufactured Novavax/Covovax, and 15 million of the Russian Sputnik V — despite the mad scramble in the world to hoard vaccine supplies?
Rather than blabbering inanities, Binay should instead show how Covid-19 should be contained in her hometown, Makati. After all, her family has total control of the city. Yet despite being the richest city with P18 billion in revenues, and among the smallest, and with so many hospitals, Makati has the third largest cases of the disease among the country’s cities, with 20,330 as of March 23. That’s Health department data. The Makati City Facebook page reports only 13,224 cases.
Antonio Carpio, convenor of the wacky Yellow and Red “coalition,” whose real members would fit in an SUV, proved not just that he’s the most overrated Supreme Court justice ever, but that he is either stupid, or just doesn’t read the newspapers.
How did he explain the need of an opposition? He shamelessly exploited the Covid-19 issue and wasn’t even good at it. In a YouTube video of his interview, he said, reading from prepared notes:
“Instead of focusing on efforts to contain the pandemic and jump-start the economy, the present administration has wasted precious time and resources on Charter change, shutting down media, canceling franchises, and threatening academic freedom of universities, and terrorizing legitimate dissenters with surveillance and arrest.”
That’s the head of an opposition? That statement is so full of inanities. First, neither Duterte nor any of the officials closest to him (like Sen. Bong Go and Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea) has shown any interest in Charter change. If there is any interest from his camp, it is from small-time political leaders and even anti-Duterte personalities who have been pushing to change the Charter to completely allow foreigners to dominate our crucial public utility sectors.
Second, the lockdowns have perhaps made Carpio lose track of time. The “closing down of media” obviously refers to the House of Representatives’ refusal to renew ABS-CBN’s franchise to operate as a public utility. When was this? Officially in May 2020, but months before everyone knew that the fate of ABS-CBN was already sealed. Duterte was distracted because of the ABS-CBN issue? There was no other media closed down by Congress or by the executive branch. Carpio is hallucinating. What other franchises is Carpio talking about that were canceled?
Threatening academic freedom? The Defense department simply ended an unconstitutional 1979 agreement with the University of the Philippines for its staff, soldiers or whatever not to enter the university’s grounds in pursuit of communist insurgents. How can that threaten academic freedom? Carpio is a lawyer; he should do better than presenting not a single case of a “legitimate dissident terrorized by surveillance and arrest.” No wonder Carpio’s views on our dispute with China in the South China Sea has been so terribly wrong.
My optimism about government’s efforts in addressing the pandemic is data-based, on how other countries have been dealing with it. It’s not just here that Covid-19 cases have surged, but in most countries badly hit by it. There is no definitive study why, whether this is due to people refusing to wear masks and observe social-distancing restrictions because of “Covid fatigue” after a year, or whether it is due to new strains of the virus.
REPORTED CASES AND DEATHS BY COUNTRY OR TERRITORY
Yet we still occupy the 30th slot among countries hit by the pandemic, with the US, Brazil and India occupying the first, second and third slots (See table). That ranking hasn’t changed in the past several months, which means that while our cases have been increasing, so have those in many other countries. If our rank had deteriorated by say five slots, then you could say that something was wrong with government’s efforts to address the pandemic.
We’re doing better than much richer countries and those with stronger states, such as Sweden, Israel, Canada, even Germany, and maybe for most of the country, better than Makati.