WE’RE at Week 4 of the Enhanced Community Quarantine (“ECQ”) over Luzon, and the situation has improved in some respects but gotten worse in others. On the one hand, we have ramped up our testing capability, and now aim to begin mass testing of patients under investigation (PUIs) and patients under monitoring (PUMs) by April 14, 2020. The ECQ itself has been extended to April 30. While there seems to be no discernible plan to justify the extension, it at least gives us the opportunity to do the mass testing while still limiting overall mobility, helping identify infection “hotspots” and form additional guidelines perhaps on a per-barangay level.
On the other hand, the so-called Social Amelioration Program has acted like its acronym suggests: slow to drip down, and when handled got quite messy as the recent impromptu gatherings in Quezon City and Rizal province have suggested. Police-controlled checkpoints are still a “mileage may vary” matter, with anecdotal cases of sexual harassment and general incompetence staining what are otherwise sincere efforts in enforcing the ECQ. President “Kawawa Naman At Mukhang Pagod Na Yung Matanda” Duterte still has his pre-taped late-night brain farts, the bulk of which will be downplayed/explained/excused to death by his spokespersons, official or otherwise, or will be overruled by the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) or by the National Task Force Against COVID-19 (NTF).
And people wonder why critics of the Duterte regime, well, criticize it so much.
In response to the criticism, a common refrain of the recently rejuvenated/created Duterte Death Squad (“DDS”) internet trolls is “Huwag kang reklamador, tumulong ka na lang!” Devoid of context, it seems like a reasonable enough counterargument. After all, what does the act of complaining do, especially in the vast void of the Internet? That energy could be put to more productive use.
But, this is Joke and Dagger, and if you’re been reading this column long enough then you know what’s coming next.
Let’s be clear. Being a critic is not being a “reklamador.” Criticism is not a complaint. Nor does it automatically mean that critics want to replace Duterte (though that isn’t an altogether bad idea, but I’ll get back to that later).
To illustrate, let’s use an analogy (a DDS favorite!): Let’s say you’re at home on a hot day and the electric fan you received as a gift is malfunctioning. The blades are moving slowly, to the point that it produces no air current. Long story short, the fan “works,” but it does not do what it is supposed to do: produce an air current that will relieve you on a hot day.
Saying, “OMG ang init di ko na kaya” is a complaint, and yes that does nothing to resolve the fact that the fan isn’t working right. On the other hand, asking the people who built the fan, “Why isn’t the electric fan working properly?” isn’t a complaint. It’s a legitimate question that deserves a legitimate answer.
Legitimate answers include, “Sorry, there’s a screw loose in the motor, let us tighten that,” and “Oh it seems the power output of your socket is too low, please have an electrician take a look at it.” Equally legitimate would be, “There is a foreign object that prevents the fan from moving optimally, we can safely remove it and get the fan working again.” And in all honesty, even “Apologies, the fan was completely defective, we’ll replace it with a fan that works” is absolutely a legitimate, if not excessive, response.
“Edi wow ikaw na ang magaling, ikaw na lang kaya maging electric fan manufacturer?” is not a legitimate response. Neither is “Eh kung iba yung manufacturer malamang mas malala pa yung sira!” “Eh mas malaki pa yung sira ng mga dating electric fan na meron kayo, nagreklamo ba kayo dati?” doesn’t quite make it as a proper response either. But perhaps the most inappropriate response is, “Kawawa naman yung fan, matanda na at mukhang nahihirapan na, intindihin mo na lang yung fan.”
An electric fan is only as good as it is able to achieve what it is built for. In the same manner, a President and their administration are only as good as they are able to achieve what they are voted into office for.
I don’t recall Duterte being voted into office because he’s old, stressed, and tired, and deserves our pity. Do you?