POSTSCRIPT / September 17, 2020 / Thursday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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Duterte hits critics: ‘They lie, we don’t’

PRESIDENT Duterte urged the people in his televised Monday report not to believe his critics when they speak ill of the administration’s handling of the twin problems of the Covid-19 pandemic and the faltering economy.

Duterte lashed out at the opposition (calling them “dilawan” or yellow) and his critics after holding a meeting at the Malago clubhouse in Malacañang with the inter-agency task force managing the anti-Covid-19 operations of the government.

He said the Philippines actually has fewer number of cases compared to other countries. (That obviously false claim sent us rechecking the global Covid-19 daily report in the worldOmeter website, whose figures we’ll share after some paragraphs below.)

Duterte said: “Huwag ho sana kayong maniwala diyan sa mga dilawan, opposition na hampas dito, hampas doon kung anong pinagsasabi (Please don’t believe the opposition who just keep on babbling).

“For as long as the virus lives on this planet, we are put in real danger. Kaya ho naman kung maniwala kayo (So if you’ll believe them) you get to be despondent… Huwag ho kayong maniwala. Dito lang (Believe only us).

Kami dito lahat (All of us here)… we are not here, we did not join government, to lie. We do not have any obligation at all to lie.

Bakit kami magsinungaling na hindi namin trabaho ‘yan at hindi naman kami pumasok sa trabaho para ‘yan lang magsinungaling? Maski Grade 1, Grade 2, alam na namin kung ano ang pagmamahal sa bayan (Why would we lie? That’s not our job. We did not come to work just to lie. Even as grade school kids we know love of country).

Back to the claim of Duterte that the Philippines’ Covid-19 cases are fewer than those of other countries, that is not quite true. We’re not saying that he was lying, maybe he was just carried away by the heat of the moment.

We picked sample countries, big and small but familiar to Filipinos, as we sought comparison between Philippine Covid-19 data with that of the 212 other countries in the worldOmeter tally based on official reports of governments around the world.

First, we noticed that the Philippines has advanced to No. 21 on the global list. Except for the fact that it used to be No. 22, that ranking is not that bothersome as there are many factors (such as population and policies) affecting the incidence of communicable diseases.

Then we noted that since the Philippines overtook Indonesia last month in number of cases in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, it has kept the top position in ASEAN. The cluster is a better context for comparison since the 10 neighbors have many things in common.

We also found remarkable that while the Philippines and Indonesia keep reaping additional deaths almost daily, the other eight ASEAN members have been reporting zero new deaths, except on occasional bad days.

In the global tabulation by worldOmeter of 213 countries, the Philippines with 269,407 cases (as updated yesterday, Wednesday) has moved up to No. 21 position, passing Germany with 264,837 cases (also updated) in their total number of infections.

As of Tuesday, Sept. 15, 04:51 GMT, in the worldOmeter website, this was how the Philippines (population 109,878,149) compared with Indonesia (population 274,116,377), the ASEAN neighbor below it:

*Against total population — Total Covid-19 cases as of Tuesday: PHL 265,888/ IDN 221,523; Total deaths: PHL 4,630/ IDN 8,841; Total recoveries: PHL 207,504/ IDN 158,405; Total tests: PHL 3,116,131/ IDN 2,672,710.

*Based on per one-million population – Cases: PHL 2,420/ IDN 808; Deaths: PHL 42/ IDN 32; Tests: PHL 28,360/ IDN 9,750.

We included their per one-million-population scores and the total number of tests performed to flatten the argument that (1) the bigger the population the bigger the number of cases recorded, and (2) the more tests performed the more cases will be uncovered.

With the above figures, officially reported by Manila and Jakarta themselves, it looks like the Philippines has overtaken Indonesia in number of cases — whether against their total population or based on per one-million population.

Still based on PER ONE-MILLION POPULATION, these are the proportionate count as of Tuesday of the number of cases, deaths and tests of other sample countries against the Philippines’ figures of 2,420 cases/million pop., 42 deaths/million pop., and 28,360 tests/million pop.:

UNITED STATES (No. 1 on the global Covid-19 list) — 20,366 cases; 600 deaths; 281,357 tests; CHINA (No. 40) — 59 cases; 3 deaths; 111,163 tests; RUSSIA (No. 4) — 7,320 cases; 128 deaths; 280,262 tests; SINGAPORE (No. 52) — 9,805 cases; 5 deaths; 389,278 tests; MALAYSIA (No. 94) — 306 cases; 4 deaths; 42,284 tests; and VIETNAM (No. 161) — 11 cases; 0.4 death; 10,348 tests.

• Get your travel visa for Tagaytay now!

AT THE RATE restrictions on internal movements are being imposed and modified, a simple out-of-town weekend jaunt could become almost as complicated as going abroad armed with a foreign travel visa.

This we realized when Police Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, chief of the Joint Task Force Covid Shield, said in a press briefing Monday that if one plans to leave Metro Manila for a trip to, say, Tagaytay City, he has to have a good reason otherwise he will need a travel pass.

Unless that policy is changed by the national task force, he added, the police will have to enforce it.

Random thoughts: How/where does one secure such a pass? Is another pass needed to enter the destination area? Do we pay for the pass and how long is the processing time? Are passes uniform in design? What does an applicant need to present? Is a pass good for one trip or multiple trips for a month or year? If in a car, will one pass suffice for all passengers? If on a bus, no need for individual passes? Who are exempted from getting a pass?

(First published in the Philippine STAR of September 17, 2020)

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