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Vietnamese lesson in fighting Covid-19: Nationalism

VIETNAM has emerged as a model — without the expensive mass testing — for stopping Covid-19 in its tracks: This country of 97 million has, so far, only 298 cases and no deaths from the disease at all.

However, one must note that one difference between Vietnam and the Philippines is that the former has not been as “globalized” as our country has been, which made it easy and fast for the virus to travel across nations’ borders.

That explains also why Myanmar and Cambodia — really still practically isolated from the rest of the world — each have only a hundred-plus cases.

Certainly it’s an anecdotal argument, but the fatalities of Covid-19 I know have been those who were so unlucky as to have traveled to Europe when the virus reached that continent. Also, in the past few years, business and tourist relations between the Philippines and China, where Covid-19 originated, had boomed.

Vietnam though does have very important lessons for us to learn from to defeat this pandemic. Two of these — involving nationalism and some suspension of Western notions of human rights — are, however, anathema to the Yellows and to the globalist elite hysterically trying to put down the administration’s successes in fighting Covid-19.

I quote verbatim from the research of two very knowledgeable writers on what Vietnam did to defeat Covid-19.


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Lockdown defied by many?

WHILE mainstream media is showing alarming signs of going to the dogs, as I rued in my column last Wednesday, there are remarkable gems of reportage and opinion pieces on Facebook written by non-journalists.

This is good for our democracy, although the weakness of social media is that writers there do not have editors. By this I mean not just those who edit their pieces, but those who provide them guidance, based on their many years of experience in the field. Despite this though, one can still find once in a while pieces that hardly need any editing nor guidance.

The following is a piece that was posted yesterday by Mark Cabuloy, who, from his profile picture, is probably in his 20s, and who curiously has a bachelor’s degree in nursing and a master’s degree in marketing communications, practically unedited (chart was included in his post).

Cabuloy piece
“As of April 15, the number of Covid-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) cases and deaths in the Philippines continues to rise without any clear signs of slowing down. As we are in the four-week point of the enhanced community quarantine, we are just beginning to see the results of our collective effort and cooperation.

It seems that the government has addressed some major issues already, but have we overcome the worst yet? Or are we headed toward grimmer scenarios?


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Inquirer senior editor spreads anti-China Covid-19 fake news

TO be quite honest, I find this episode very depressing because it is such a sad commentary on the state of the profession I’m in — it is going to the dogs, and it is not even the younger generation who are leading it to ruin but the veterans of the industry.

The Philippine Daily Inquirer the other day ran a prominently positioned article titled, “Paper by Chinese scientists shows Covid-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) came from Wuhan biolab.” It even very dishonestly portrayed the article as the product of hard-work journalism, as it was part of some series dubbed “Investigative Publishing.” To make even people in a hurry read it, it was subtitled: “American China expert and ‘Bully of Asia’ author claims it’s been censored by communist authorities and removed online.”

It is fake news, originally spread back in February by Lifesitenews.com, website of the religious Right that is notorious for posting misleading or totally false news, and in a blog written by a fire-breathing anti-China writer

The Inquirer writer, senior editor Lito Zulueta, did not even read the actual “paper by Chinese scientists.” The piece was entirely based on a blog in LifeSiteNews by one Steven Mosher, whom the author extensively quoted — and not the Chinese research paper itself.

For starters, what is LifeSiteNews that was the basis of the Inquirer piece? The pioneer fact-checker, Snopes.com (established 1994) identified LifeSiteNews as “a known purveyor of misleading information.”

LifeSiteNews in fact has been a “favorite” of Snopes in the sense that it has debunked over two dozen of its pieces as fake or misleading news. Some examples of that site’s articles which Snopes debunked: “Abortionist strangled baby born alive;” “Facebook owner Mark Zuckerberg bragged about banning pro-life ads;” and “Court testimony prove biotech company harvests organs from live fetuses.”

LifeSiteNews is run by an ultra-right Catholic organization in Ontario, founded initially to promote anti-abortion views. It is in the lunatic fringe of the Catholic Right. A Reuters article alleged that it is a platform for attacks against Pope Francis; a magazine described it as an outlet against the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community; and Catholic apologist Dave Armstrong called it a “radical Catholic reactionary.”

Propaganda 101: How to spin it

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Pandemic kills 80,000 Filipinos

NOPE, that’s not the latest fake news being spread by that broadcast journalist who’s gullible, hysterical, incompetent or a paid Yellow agitator (or all of the above.) Neither is it the prophetic vision of some religious nut.

That’s how many Filipinos died as a result of the misnamed “Spanish flu” that ravaged the world in 1918-1919 and killed at least 50 million and afflicted 500 million souls. It took the lives of 80,000 Filipinos and infected 4 million. That makes the current Covid-19 pandemic — so far — look like a minor cold. The other day it infected “just” 1.8 million people (4,428 Filipinos) and killed 108,834 (247 here.)

I find it astonishing that a pandemic of such colossal magnitude hasn’t been etched in our collective consciousness. I consider myself well-read, but it is only in researching material on the current pandemic for this column that I became aware of the horrific scale of that tragedy which afflicted humanity just in the last century.

One explanation is that the drama — if I may use that word — of the Great War (the First World War), its clash of empires, the emergence of terrible new weapons of war such as mustard gas and tanks, and the heroism of soldiers eclipsed the “mundane” deaths of millions of ordinary human beings, each dying only with a whimper.

Another explanation is that the pandemic was so horrific, that as in the case of individual consciousness, our global mind consciousness coped with it by blocking it from memory.

Indeed, one puzzle has been the fact that literary writers of that period — supposedly the people’s voices, hypersensitive to the human condition — were for some reason silent on the horror of the Spanish flu, even if many such as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and John dos Passos were witnesses to it. One writer though speculated that the hell of the Spanish flu actually silently wormed its way into the minds of writers and especially philosophers to create a genre of works of cynicism and ennui just before World War 2.

How else could T.S. Eliot — considered the single most important and unparalleled poet of the modern era — have thought of these chilling lines, “This is how the world ends/ Not with a bang but a whimper.” Was the bang World War 1, the whimper the last breath of a flu-infected man?

Source: F. Gealogo, ‘The Philippines in the world of the influenza pandemic of 1918-1919

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Did Jesus exist?

AT this time, when our culture, dominated for nearly four centuries by the Hispanic model of late-medieval Catholicism, imposes on us several days of contemplating the Christian Messiah, I dare post again a piece I wrote two years ago, discussing whether Christ did exist in the first place. Someday, sometime in your lives, you will have to choose: the Red or the Blue pill.

My 2018 column follows:
It is incontestable in this modern age that science has been the singularly most powerful tool for us to understand reality, to separate what’s false and mythical, and what’s true and factual (or historical). Science just in the past 100 years of modern human’s 200,000 years of existence, for instance, has unlocked the mysteries of the atom and of the human genome, so we understand now that the world is not composed of “earth, air, water and fire” nor are we just a more sophisticated form of dust.


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Thank God for China

TO be perfectly honest, with the nightmarish course of the Covid-19 pandemic since February, I would have probably stopped writing by March as I would have been so busy using most of my meager savings stocking up on rice, coffee and canned goods; preparing for a refuge somewhere in the mountains or in a remote Boracay-kind of island; and arming myself with pistols and rifles (to fend off looters).

But I didn’t because of one thing: China.


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Renato S. Velasco: Dear friend and comrade

RENE Velasco, my best friend in the past two decades and comrade in both the activist Maoist days of our youth and in government in our adult life, passed away last Saturday from pneumonia caused by Covid-19.

It’s a surreal, terrible feeling that something in the news everyday in the past two months, about which I’ve written so many articles, would snuff out the life of a dear friend, whom I couldn’t even visit when I first heard that he was in hospital. It would be like reading and writing about a serial killer, who would then kill a close friend.

Rene and I were communist cadres in our college days, he the secretary of the party group in the University of the Philippines when I was head of the party organization in Metro Manila. Unlike many of our comrades at that stage in our lives though, our egos were not invested in the communist cause, nor in the camaraderie of the struggle, nor relying on it for our livelihoods.

July 16, 1953-April 4,2020

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Globalization’s monster: Covid-19

TIME was when the Philippine elite’s mantra, what they saw as nearly the cure-all for everything that ailed the country, was “globalization.”

It was former president Fidel Ramos who practically made it a national policy. He ingrained the doctrine so much into the ruling class’ consciousness that the capture of even our key telecommunications industries by “global” companies like Hong Kong’s First Pacific Co. Ltd. and Singapore’s Temasek Holdings Pvt. Ltd. — even through a patent violation of our Constitution — has been nonchalantly accepted, even to this day.

In the globalist ideology, nations are remnants of the 20th century. In the 21st century, there would be a borderless world in which global companies source their materials and labor power from whatever part of the globe that is most efficient. Top corporate executives and millennials boasted that they were “global citizens” rather than parochial Pinoys. Children of the elite were sent to Ivy League schools in the United States and boarding schools in the United Kingdom to be our contributions to the world’s global citizens.

Guess what, most of the world have now shut down their borders to keep out the horrible coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.


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Govt must now craft and start post-lockdown strategies

THREE weeks into the lockdown of Metro Manila and other major urban areas in the Philippines, the government must now craft appropriate strategies to end this draconian but necessary means of containing the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.

As I will try to explain here, such post-lockdown strategies are part and parcel of our war to defeat this plague, and its implementation has to start soon. The government must consult with local governments, the medical community, the private sector and others to develop such strategies.

While there could still be sudden spikes of infection and even deaths, and the colossal United States and European failure in dealing with the pandemic could affect us, it is reasonable to conclude that the lockdown has worked in containing Covid-19’s exponential growth.

It is rampaging in the US because Americans, and their political leadership, refuse to impose such lockdown. “That will create civil war,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo even said when President Donald Trump floated the idea of that state’s lockdown.

But the lockdown strategy has its huge costs: it means a cessation of production and other economic activities. The longer we have a lockdown, the more people won’t have livelihoods, more of the poorest will starve, worse will be the damage to the economic system.

Even government’s P200-billion financial parachute for the poor will quickly run out. Simply having the central bank print more money — as tax revenues have and will fall because of the lockdown — to fund similar lifelines risks hyperinflation that would make the peso worthless.

We have to gradually end the lockdown, which means circumspectly allowing economic activity — i.e., factories, offices and distributors — to resume in an orderly manner. If we simply return everything to normal, that is, lift the enhanced community quarantine tomorrow, we risk some straggler virus force from spreading again exponentially, throwing back to the end-February status and maybe even more.

I list below a few elements of such a post-lockdown strategy.


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How are we doing, relative to the rest of the world, that is?

TO be frank, for a second or so, the news reported yesterday afternoon that we had 272 new Covid-19 cases, bringing the total to 1,075, sent a shiver down my spine.

That’s the highest increase in a day so far, although, as a health department official explained, the rise in the past several days may have been due to the increase in tests being undertaken and results coming in only recently. But no epidemiologist can really be certain whether we’ve reached the peak or are just starting on the curve. The statement of a United States health official has become classic: “It is the virus that makes the timeline.”

What gives some comfort though is how we stand compared to other countries.

Confirmed Cases and Deaths by Country or Territory
Confirmed Cases and Deaths by Country or Territory.
Source: worldometers.info/coronavirus/ (Philippines and World updated for March 29, 2020)

Continue ReadingHow are we doing, relative to the rest of the world, that is?