Christmas as alibi

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    ‘We hope that Christmas will not be used as an excuse to throw restrictions out of
    the window, when eating out, mall shopping, cockfights and liquor drinking mark the holiday celebrations.’

    REP. Lord Allan Velasco was suddenly on top of his game after wrangling his part of the deal from Speaker Allan Peter Cayetano, who didn’t want to keep it. Cayetano thought he could trust the numbers more than his instincts.

    President Duterte was probably tempted to reward Cayetano with an extension of his term as speaker for vigorously pursuing the budget approval on time. But the President knew better than to trigger a political backlash from the majority coalition at the House by breaking what he himself conceived and openly endorsed as a gentleman’s agreement between his very close allies. Velasco’s ties with the Duterte family are deep enough for him to command a large, convincing support from the congressmen.

    ***

    European countries are paying dearly for easing quarantine restrictions with the rise of COVID-19 infections at 100,000 a day. Opening bars and restaurants have been most lethal, with liquor driving many regular and chronic drinkers to relish a COVID-free stupor.

    Governments have closed down bars and numerous restaurants which should remain closed during the winter months when the craving for alcohol in Western Europe becomes genuinely insatiable.

    In Metro Manila, where drinking is rampant, groceries and small stores continue to enjoy brisk sales of beers and other liquor. We wonder why local officials and the police have ignored those outlets selling liquor without the proper permits.

    We hope that Christmas will not be used as an excuse to throw restrictions out of the window, when eating out, mall shopping, cockfights and liquor drinking mark the holiday celebrations. The authorities should be more than aware of a COVID second wave if rampant and blatant lack of discipline takes over.

    ***

    San Miguel Corp. president and COO Ramon Ang’s huge contributions to the government’s anti-COVID response are truly exemplary. Other business conglomerates and corporations anxious about the future of their investments in the face of the current pandemic have not responded enough. Otherwise, the conditions of our health workers and the sick and suffering in public hospitals would have quite eased.

    Ang has just received the highly-prestigious Lifetime Contributor Award at the 2020 Asia CEO Awards, regarded as the largest business awards in Asia. Ang was recognized for his “visionary leadership, significant and long-term contributions to the country, and unprecedented response to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

    SMC’s total COVID response has reached a P13.187 billion so far. He stressed that the private sector’s efforts in growing businesses and investing in numerous industries would amount to nothing “if the people and our economy fail.”

    To rouse big business from fear and uncertainty and from retrenching employees, Ang said, “For us in San Miguel, now is not the time to hold back. In fact, now is the time to go all out. Our country’s future depends on it.”

    Ang and SMC seem unmindful of the deadly virus. Work on its major infrastructure projects such as the Skyway extension, Skyway 3 and MRT-7 have continued at an accelerated pace. Last July, it delivered the entire stretch of the Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway. Its biggest project, the P740-billion Manila International Airport in Bulacan, is set to break ground by the end of the year.