‘So, just to quickly recap: Our Chief Executive has no plan. Our sycophant-ridden Congress will make a plan. Maybe it will be a good plan, but don’t get your hopes up. Our implementing agencies will plod along, playing whack-a-mole with
COVID-19 using quarantines, shame campaigns, and local gossips.’
BY the time you read this, it will have been two days since Clown-in-Chief Duterte’s late night non-comedy show moved to a special once-a-year primetime slot. You might have even watched it – I hope you didn’t, for your own spiritual and mental well-being.
If you didn’t watch it, you didn’t miss anything substantial.
The long and short of the SONA was, yes, COVID-19 is a problem, yes, thank you to the frontline-oh look, Senator Drilon! Telcoms! Bong Go, Duterte’s safe sky, with whom he is at peace! Oligarchs! Pass Duterte’s laws, rubber stamp Congress, even the ones you already passed and that he vetoed! More gaslighting! More oligarchs!
Oligarchs. Duterte loves using this word, but it doesn’t mean what he thinks it means. But that’s another column for another time.
There is no recovery plan for the COVID-19 pandemic. He is leaving that for Congress to decide, in passing an encompassing “Recover as One Act.” Given the brain trust of Congress, as recently displayed during the SONA with their amazing ability to clap on demand, I have absolutely no confidence in the resulting law.
It doesn’t help that Duterte claims he will pursue COVID-19 measures with the “same fervor” as his “war on drugs.” After all, his war on drugs is a complete and unmitigated failure that has resulted in thousands of deaths, with no real effect on the illegal drug trade. Personally, I’m not keen on seeing that level of “success” duplicated for the pandemic response.
Beyond whatever law Congress passes, I likewise have no confidence in the agencies that will be implementing it. Look at the Department of Health, consistently inconsistent with its treatment of COVID-19 numbers. Look at the Philippine National Police, seriously considering tokhang-style door-to-door “May umuubo ba dito?” operations and literal chismoso/chismosa recruitment. Look at the Department of the Interior and Local Government, with one of its officers (coughDiñocough) suggesting a “shame campaign” for people who test positive for COVID-19 but opted to self-quarantine at home in accordance with DOH guidelines.
In fact, just look at the Rizal Memorial Stadium this past weekend, where thousands of Filipinos stranded in Metro Manila trooped over to find a way home.
If there was ever a scene that truly depicted, in a “Pinoy na Pinoy” manner, the state of our nation, it was the Rizal Memorial Stadium over the weekend. Where people were jampacked, risking health amid the pandemic and strong rains, just to get home – because there is nothing left for them here. Where government completely lost control over the volumes of people, and where virtually nothing was done to fast-track the processes, to ease up the crowds.
Where the government response to the immediate problematic situation was to send a flute band to entertain the crowd.
A. Flute. Band. In the middle of a pandemic where the virus is known to travel in the air as part of vapor.
There are so many words for this, but none of them are fit to see print in a newspaper.
As of this writing, throngs of people are still at the Rizal Memorial Stadium, trying to get home, albeit in far lesser numbers. Even so, government is looking to bring these people home by Thursday, 30 July 2020.
The cynic in me thinks that the only reason they targeted Thursday was because Friday is supposed to be a holiday.
So, just to quickly recap: Our Chief Executive has no plan. Our sycophant-ridden Congress will make a plan. Maybe it will be a good plan, but don’t get your hopes up. Our implementing agencies will plod along, playing whack-a-mole with COVID-19 using quarantines, shame campaigns, and local gossips. All while botching what actually needs to be done, such as mass testing, aggressive contact tracing, and medical facility augmentation.
This is the state of our nation, in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. May the Almighty have mercy on us all.