MORE than two months into battling the coronavirus, President Duterte finally called in the country’s health experts to bring more invaluable on the table, which was an acknowledgment, no doubt, of the people’ heavy disappointment with the lead agency, the Department of Health.
DOH Secretary Francisco Duque is bogged down by the presidential ego which he should have ignored to enable him to openly confess the lamentable inadequacies and limitations of the government’s health infrastructure before the infections begun to spread.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque has stated that it is the President who will finally decide on the new or modified crucial parameters on prevention and prompt treatment. We cringe at the thought of a non-expert who bungled what could have been a timely and aggressive response to the coronavirus chiefly due to his insidious ties with China standing as decision-maker on how the county should get out of this terrible fix and to save its people from looming infections and deaths.
The President knows he is not personally equipped to synthesize the varied medical assessments from people who, of course, are keenly aware of the depth of this huge crisis more than he is.
We wonder if Malacanang is considering declaring martial law in Luzon even if it is stumped by the Constitutional provision that does not provide a widespread epidemic or pandemic as basis. It might as well tinker with “lawless violence” which may yet be presented with metaphorical vigor in the relentless “violence” or human agony triggered by an insurmountable health crisis resulting in incapacitation and death.
But the specific provision points directly to the general breakdown of peace and order that threatens the lives of citizens. Direct threat to human life caused by the blatant and rising quarantine violations may be premised creatively on urgent and forced medical and individual protection, as well as on the uncertainties for relief and recovery. But it will be uniquely tragic to be guided by the Constitution being silent on the matter.
People now remember former Sen. Heherson Alvarez as one of the opposition pillars during the Marcos regime, one of the few who never wavered in his cause or kowtowed to the fascist rulers and their cronies.
Today, we find ourselves waking up to the fiery patriotism this one man put up so much to make his country free. The Marcos trolls will be unable to rewrite his life’s courageous historical and personal narrative in the midst of the vicious state onslaught against its mostly unarmed and helpless citizens.
As the leaders of the opposition led by Ninoy Aquino were falling one by one into the hands of the Marcos military, Alvarez and Bonifacio Gillego had successfully eluded the pursuing Metrocom and, prompting then Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile to warn that “they will be shot on sight if they still refuse to surrender.”
After fleeing the country in a breathtaking series of maneuvers – slipping past government agents in various disguises – and with the superb acting skills of his wife, Cecile Guidote, a distinguished stage artist, Alvarez began to mobilize Filipinos in the US against Marcos and martial law. The eloquent Constitutional Convention delegate also went to the US Congress to present the dire situation in the Philippines and to lobby for Washington to cut military aid to the regime.
Enraged, Marcos and Enrile turned their sights on the family of Alvarez. His brother, 16-year-old Marsman Alvarez, was brutally tortured, his eyes gouged out and his head bashed. Upon seeing the mangled body of his son that was fished out from a creek in Bulacan, the father of Alvarez, a war veteran, suffered a massive heart attack and died.
Alvarez lost his treasured pedigree as a prominent politician in Isabela after he rose against the Marcoses and after the entrenched political dynasties in the province, mostly inheritors of the institutionalized plunder and extortion there, had looked down on him.
Alvarez probably died a lonely man, a washed-out politician to his rivals who never cared about his shining patriotic past. But until the end, he avoided the pitfalls of corruption, social oppression and wicked patronage as he turned his back on an electorate that was still glad to be bought or bribed.
At the height of the massive vote-buying managed unabated by still powerful families, he withdrew from the congressional race in Isabela one week before the polls last year. Alvarez’s vision of a genuine democracy in the hands of the upright and honest at his own province died with him.