POSTSCRIPT / April 6, 2021 / Tuesday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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Let COVID rage till close to 2022 polls?

THERE is this theory going around, and gaining currency among many onlookers bracing for the unseen virus hitting them, that President Duterte is in no hurry to tame the raging COVID-19 pandemic before the 2022 election fever is in the air.

The No-El (no elections) scenario was resurrected after a certain Bong Go was mis/quoted in social media saying: “If we don’t solve this pandemic, there will be no elections.” But could a COVID crisis justify the cancellation of regular national elections?

Reports are rife of administration operators fanning – or allowing – the spread of the coronavirus that has escalated its daily infection rate to well past the 10,000 mark.

An Anthon @anthonPB reported last week: “Pumunta ang Kuya niyo sa Cagayan para daw maghatid ng ‘tulong’. Puno ang mga gym, there were instances na walang masks and social distancing. Two weeks later, Cagayan is on high alert for Covid asking for additional health workers dahil puno na ng Covid patients.”

On pandemic measures, Dr. Winlove Mojica @theskinsensei talks of ECQ on Twitter: “Wag kayo magulat kung i-extend another two weeks after next week. Hindi imposible. Masyadong mataas ang mga kaso. Daming namamatay sa labas ng ospital. Tungkol sa plano, sana making this time. We shouldn’t expect new results from old ways.”

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FROM our email box we got this reaction to the complaints of taxpayers and potential COVID victims airing their fears and frustrations over the government’s seeming inept handling of the mass vaccination and the stalling economy:

“Government is not confused or incompetent. It is just sticking to a logical plan. It does not want to solve the pandemic now because it is timing the peak of vaccination and the subsequent recovery of the economy by early next year, for purposes of impact on the 2022 elections.

“By the 3rd quarter of 2021, vaccine prices will start to dive. By the 4th quarter, the government will step up vaccinations and probably release in December funds for relief, stimulus, subsidies, etc., in time for Christmas. Mobility and business will pick up fast in January through March 2022.

“The presidential campaign begins March 2022. Government will start distributing cash by then (from the budget it has been hoarding) towards a climax of happiness and excitement by Election Day in May 2022.

“The biggest problem for the government is how to dribble the ball from now till December while hoarding funds for its war chest. It will have to entertain, divert and distract the public for seven months. This is what is happening.

“Even if the entire country gets sick, only 5 percent will be seriously ill and less than 1 percent will die. Most Filipinos can easily forget that toll as long as they have a long fiesta from Christmas to May next year.”

• Send generals on COVID duty to WPS

THERE is actually a bumper crop on social media of sensible data-based suggestions from various sectors waiting to be harvested, sorted and rewritten for updated policy directions.

President Duterte could even redeploy some of his generals from the COVID front to the West Philippine Sea where they are more needed. (A supposedly friendly China has taken off its smiley mask and is now openly challenging the Philippines in its own exclusive economic zone.)

If the President doesn’t want to be seen looking at (listening to) Vice President Leni Robredo talking of how to handle COVID, he can check among others on Rep. Stella Quimbo of Marikina who is saying on social media:

“Extending the ECQ will be useless unless DoH revises its approach to COVID control. Current policies are clearly not working. The number of new cases continues to increase daily and hospital beds are lacking where the COVID surge is largest.

“DoH needs an honest assessment of the situation. They need to accept that the numbers are rising and are not even reflective of reality, because they failed to expand testing and tracing to an appropriate scale for disease control. DoH reported cases that are based only on those they have tested positive in RT-PCR tests. Hence, for as long as testing is not accessible to all and if alternative ways of detecting COVID (eg., anti-gen tests) are not included in the reporting protocol, DoH will not get the COVID numbers right.

“A more localized lockdown needs to be implemented at the smallest possible unit – the household. Households with at least one member who is COVID-positive must be put on lockdown and all basic needs delivered to them with the assistance of the LGUs. The COVID-positive individual must be taken to an isolation facility if isolation is not possible at home, while the rest of the household should be presumed COVID-positive and not allowed to go to work or leave the house. All basic needs must be brought to them by the barangay….

“For a household lockdown to be enforceable, sufficient cash and in-kind assistance must be provided by the government. Workers must be assured of paid sick leave. It is time to recognize the important role of Barangay Health Workers, who are trained to do household mapping and check vital statistics of sick individuals. They should be promptly vaccinated, and given their allowances and hazard pay.”

Like US first lady Jill Biden, Quimbo has a doctorate (PhD) and is a teacher. If Duterte doesn’t want to show interest, he can keep his distance and just stalk the congresswoman on social media where she is @TeacherStellaQ on Twitter.

A summa cum laude from UP, Quimbo is more solid than a certain Kuya Bong Go who entertains with such posts as: Suportado ko po ang kagustuhan ni Pangulong Duterte na magkaroon ng vaccine institute sa Pilipinas na magbibigay ng kakayahan sa ating bansa na mag-develop at mag-produce ng sarili nating mga bakuna, atbp.

Start putting up a distractive Vaccine Malasakit Institute in the midst of a raging pandemic?

(First published in the Philippine STAR of April 6, 2021)

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