‘Yet we still do not have the proper capacity to test those who need to get tested. That’s why OFWs are stuck in the airport, that’s why seamen are stuck onboard ships in Manila Bay, and that’s why governors and mayors are scared – yes, scared – that Filipinos coming home are bringing with them the very virus we have been trying to contain for the last 70 or so days.’
WHAT could have we accomplished in 120 days if, from Day 1, we had been on the right course?
How many deaths could we have avoided? How much of the spread of the virus could we have prevented?
And how much economic pain could we have escaped suffering from, if we had done things right in those 120 days?
I ask this because, 120 days ago, I made a post on Facebook. To be specific, last January 30, I asked this of the Secretary of Health:
“Maybe Sec. Duque should just admit that the DOH does not have the technical capability of testing for coronavirus cases?”
I asked that 120 days ago. When there was yet no first wave. When no one had died yet. At a time when our government was still focused on ABS-CBN and quo warranto rather than on news reports coming out of Wuhan, China.
I was hoping Sec. Duque would just say: “The DOH does not have the capability.” But he didn’t. On the contrary, he was dismissive of the threat, dismissive of the need to cut flights from China, and boastful of the capabilities his department had.
One hundred twenty days later he says that the weakness of the Philippines health system is its poor testing capacity. A capacity which was no one else’s lookout but his. His and his alone.
But testing is in fact not only our system’s weakness. So is tracing, which our government officials have always been saying was being done “aggressively.”
And yet, during recent Cabinet briefings you hear the Secretary of Finance, and during his own briefing you hear the Banko Sentral Governor, mentioning the need to hire tens if not hundreds of thousands of displaced overseas Filipino workers to do the work of contract tracing!
One hundred and twenty days later! Still no capacity to test and still no capacity to trace.
And yet in those 120 days, as the number of infected rose from the first three Chinese mainlanders to the immaculate infection in Greenhills to the 15,000 plus officially counted today, what have we seen instead?
Well, over those 120 days, we’ve seen the purchase of overpriced equipment that the President says was in keeping with his instructions to buy whatever is needed at whatever the price.
Yet we still do not have the proper capacity to test those who need to get tested. That’s why OFWs are stuck in the airport, that’s why seamen are stuck onboard ships in Manila Bay, and that’s why governors and mayors are scared – yes, scared – that Filipinos coming home are bringing with them the very virus we have been trying to contain for the last 70 or so days.
Keep that in mind: 120 days ago I asked that the Health Secretary just admit that his department did not have the capacity to do the testing we needed to get done.
Yet after we’ve lost hundreds in lives, and trillions in the economy, he now says it’s the weak link of our healthcare are system.
He is wrong.
It was the weak link 120 days ago. Today, the weak link is leadership.
That’s what we know now, after those dreadful 120 days.