With the veeroos out of control and the OFWs who have lost their jobs and the recession looming on the horizon, plus the DOH and the PNP as icing on the cake, we have gone from bad to worse.’
POOR President Duterte. As the scripted posts of the DDS put it, “hirap na hirap na si Tatay” and “nakakaawa na si Tatay” as he struggles to lead the Philippines through this global pandemic during the last two years of his term.
There is so much at stake: the welfare of the nation, his legacy, the future of the POGOs that have yet (I suspect) to pay the P50 Billion they owe the Filipino people in taxes. And, of course, there is the matter of the 2022 elections, where it is critical that someone friendly to the current administration is elected president.
But, at the risk of sounding like a broken record, the administration’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic has been a game of catch-up at best, a comedy of errors even. Except that it is the veeroos that is laughing, at our expense.
Failure to act is writ all over the actions of government since the World Health Organization (WHO) first sounded the alarm on January 30. Failure to prepare is seen in the absence of even a skeleton of a plan. When China was already emitting signals that should have been red flags for anyone focused on crisis management, we were boasting of being ready (with 2,000 test kits!) and of how a mere slap across the veeroos’ fat face would send it reeling back to where it came from. Which was China, yes?
It is true, of course, that all governments – even China’s — were caught unprepared. But we responded as if the veeroos was just a bad stomach ache that would go away after a good nap.
Today, we have over 11,000 infections officially counted, tens of thousands (if not hundreds of thousands) more asymptomatics uncounted, and a death count that is surely understated. How high will it go? Only God knows (or maybe a surprisingly quiet Pastor too); what we know is we remain unprepared for the task ahead so we stumble from ECQ to ECQ again seemingly hoping that by the time we wake up at the end of the most recent extension there would be, by some miracle, a cure or something and everything will return to normal.
And then the “mañanita” happened. And things went from bad to worse.
Caught unprepared, compounded by an unwillingness to offend China in the early days, the government swung into action in a not surprisingly way – ordering people to stay at home to deny the veeroos a sea of hosts while allowing the healthcare system to prepare. And placed in charge of enforcing the lockdown rules was none other than the men and women of the Philippine National Police. To whom barking orders come naturally, and who also naturally respond to rule violators with a mailed fist.
In fact, Gen. Debold Sinas, the NCRPO head, was himself quoted on March 13 as saying: “What are we going to do with them, hold a dialogue?”
Maybe now he has to conduct a monologue.
In one fell swoop, his birthday party has sunk the credibility of the PNP. Yes, the PNP because 1) the PNP has been unforgiving with lockdown violators; 2) the NCRPO chief incredulously didn’t immediately and unequivocally just issue an apology, and 3) even more incredulously the Chief PNP instantaneously gave his subordinate a pass. And the shrill denials and excuses that came after even made things worse. That the pictures were photoshopped, using photos from old parties. That it wasn’t a party. That he was surprised by his men and as a gentleman couldn’t turn them away. That it was a private gathering and not one on the street. That there were less than ten people (per table). That there was no intention to violate the law. That he was sorry.
Thus the backlash. Fierce. Unforgiving. Deserved. So much so that the DILG secretary and then the Chief PNP were forced to act, the latter to call for an investigation – of something he had already prejudged as not a violation!
What saddens me is the feeling that had there been no backlash there would have been no investigation. Because “the law is the law” is not true for everyone. It’s never been. Not now, not before. This is the Philippines and we all know that. “Weather-weather” as they say.
Which is even more sad because this was an administration that boasted it would bring change. Discipline. Pride. Progress
The only ones who still believe that now are the DDS who are always on script. And some of my friends who have nice comfy posts in government.
With the veeroos out of control and the OFWs who have lost their jobs and the recession looming on the horizon, plus the DOH and the PNP as icing on the cake, we have gone from bad to worse.
That’s been the change.