Shifting Bayanihan spirit

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    ‘More than ever, authorities need to actively impose the basic but life-saving protocols against the spread of COVID.’

    THE new head of Task Force Shield, Lt. Gen. Cesar Binag, will surely have his hands full in strictly enforcing quarantine protocols during the holiday season. If failure is farthest from his mind, Binag has no recourse but to implement them vigorously, especially against powerful individuals who will try to skirt the restrictions and conduct their parties or gatherings discreetly.

    Binag’s one major challenge is ensuring compliance in suspending the sale and distribution of hard drinks. As we know, drunks become unrestrained, many turning violent if pacified.

    Malacanang may be trying to appease anxious holiday-makers by disapproving the use of rattan sticks by the PNP in enforcing social distancing. Presidential spokesman Harry Roque should have thought of something more sensible than saying the sticks should be used instead “for checking the contents of bags to ensure public safety.” Roque forgot that the move will also ensure the safety of scores in the PNP who had been infected by COVID-19 due to their constant exposure to asymptomatic persons in crowded areas and checkpoints.

    This is, of course, no time to court popularity and appreciation from the people who do not know any better to forego life’s comfort and delights in favor of health protection and survival. Binag is the subdued but willful general whose zealous goals in this crisis have been cut out before him. He may yet persuade President Duterte to lay-off the rattan sticks for mall security and call on him to turn the Bayanihan spirit into discipline, toughness and forced compliance.

    More than ever, authorities need to actively impose the basic but life-saving protocols against the spread of COVID. The celebratory mood should be tempered by the deadly threat of widespread infections if restrictions are eased during this season. The stronger and younger sectors of the national population will simply throw caution to the wind in their unbridled merry-making, never mind if the more vulnerable are placed at a greater risk.

    Buhay Party-list Rep. Lito Atienza has surprised many by claiming that ABS-CBN will reopen in 2021. Apparently, Atienza has sidled up to new House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco. Are they longtime mutual friends?

    Atienza is the aging but astute veteran politician who has been quite skilful in the dynamics of the political game. It may yet be a political ploy to restore public confidence in the House of Representatives that has been eroded by its denial of the TV station’s new operating franchise.

    The coming elections in 2022 may have convinced Velasco to do a turnaround on the ABS-CBN franchise renewal, aware of the political and media backlash against the lawmakers that may be irreversible if the huge broadcast networks remains closed on election day. The less flamboyant Velasco must have talked President Duterte into reconsidering the plight of the network, along with the political fortunes of the administration party.