And now for the good news

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    ‘And speaking of telcos – tell me how can this country switch to distance education and online classes when the telcos are so unreliable? I am in no mood to write about those because they just depress me.’

    WHEN I began putting my thoughts together for this piece, it struck me – things are so depressing nowadays and I didn’t want to write an opinion piece that would just make me (and whoever had nothing better to do than to read my piece) even more depressed.

    I didn’t want to write anything anymore about Francisco Duque III who, I have always insisted since January of this year, is the wrong man for the job. The President, for the upteenth time, has come to the defense of Duque, saying that he would not have chosen Duque to be Health secretary if Duque were incompetent. (Or did he say corrupt? I think he said incompetent.)

    But my point about Duque has been fairly simple and I’ve always tried to analogize the situation with a basketball team. You see, Team Philippines is in a crucial game, and at a crucial time of the crucial game. Say it’s a do-or-die, which is not inappropriate because we are talking about COVID. And in that do-or-die game we are in the fourth and final quarter, with maybe more than half of the quarter gone. And we are behind.

    In moments like these you need crunch players, those who have the physical stamina, the basketball sense and the will to win all on the court. Not every player is like that; a few stand out. Others can wilt under the pressure of crunch time, make crucial errors and therefore lose the game for you. I’ve always believed that Duque is not one of those “crunch time players” and have been saying on Facebook since February that the President needed a new set of crisis management players. Because Duque can’t hack it.

    But if the President insists, that’s his call. It’s his legacy at stake anyway. His legacy – but our lives.

    Which brings me to another depressing topic I no longer want to write about: our losing fight vs. COVID. I know that someone has said we are in fact winning – if not against COVID then at least against the dire warnings of some UP experts. But you and I know he was just spinning a tale to make his boss look better. Because the reality is we are not winning, not by a long shot. We have the singular honor of having the longest-running lockdown in the world, and yet our case numbers climb. As some parts of the world open up, we might find ourselves as one of the few nations whose citizens won’t be allowed to roam those parts of the world. Pariahs. Because we haven’t controlled the veeroos.

    It’s also depressing to write about the economic impact of COVID: small to medium sized enterprises out of business, millions of OFWs out of work, billions in OFW remittances gone.

    Our economic managers are desperate to get Metro Manila and Cebu reopened because they account for more than 60% of our economy, yet they also account for maybe 80% of all COVID cases. Meantime, we’ve gone out hat in hand seeking loans from the international community. There’s no money in the coffers.

    Who would be excited to write about that?

    There’s the Jolo ambush of four Army intelligence officers by the PNP. That too is depressing. Especially after it comes in the wake of the killing by the PNP of an Army veteran who had PTSD, and on whom the PNP tried to plant evidence. Of course, these days when you talk about misdeeds of certain PNP personnel the images of a birthday celebration is not far behind. How that was excused – by the President himself, no less – is depressing too.

    There’s the Terror Bill, there’s the ABS-CBN franchise issue, there’s the missing fishermen whose boat was rammed by a Chinese vessel, and there’s the inability of the third telco to fulfill its performance obligation of setting up over 1,000 cell sites before end of July (I think they have just a shade over 100). And speaking of telcos – tell me how can this country switch to distance education and online classes when the telcos are so unreliable? I am in no mood to write about those because they just depress me.

    That’s why, I said, if only just this once, I will write something upbeat, and focus on the good news.