The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed humankind’s long-ignored exposure to the risk of virulent diseases running wild and severely impacting the world order. It all but levelled the playing field. People from both rich and poor countries were not spared from the disease’s harmful, and in a lot of cases, deadly effects on the human body. Not surprisingly, the pandemic exposed Third World countries’ inability to respond to crises.
Take the case of the Philippines, for example. The country is, for lack of a better word, screwed. Of course this statement is not something Filipinos would like to hear. But it is a reality that a lot of Filipinos live through. The fact is, the country was screwed even before President Rodrigo Duterte was voted into power. Even Duterte has said this a few times pre-COVID-19. He quite often expressed his frustration over the bureaucracy being a roadblock to getting things done. He knows the insurmountable work that is needed to fix the country.
The truth is, the COVID-19 pandemic is only the catalyst that proved that Philippine society lacks the ability to move forward and progress. Forget economic growth. The Filipino people are now in survival mode. The country does not have enough facilities to cater to its sick and dying not just from the coronavirus, but all kinds of diseases that plague the nation.
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This is not just one man’s fault. It’s the entire society’s fault. It’s easy for the Opposition to blame the current government for the predicament the country is in now, but generations of Filipinos allowed incompetent politicians to run the country to the ground. Think about it. Had the previous administration have any foresight, they would have built additional hospitals, laboratories and research facilities to gain the ability to cater to its citizens’ needs and respond to crises such as pandemics and other disasters considering that the country is particularly prone to natural disasters. After all, it takes years to build those capabilities. But most past politicians in the Philippines do not think long-term. They are only interested in being in power for their own interests.
The society’s lack of foresight and inability to prepare for worst case scenarios is what’s making a dire situation even more critical. Most of all, people, especially members of the Opposition who were in power for decades, are habitually reactive rather than proactive. The whole time they were in power, particularly previous President BS “Noynoy” Aquino, they were simply preoccupied with releasing feel-good rhetoric like “Kayo ang boss ko” (You are my boss) or “Daang matuwid” (straight path) that were all but useless then and are merely laughable now. They just wanted to give the illusion that everything was okay. Every time they criticise the current government, they highlight the fact that they did not do anything to strengthen the country’s ability to face future challenges. They highlight their own shortfalls. These people and their rabid supporters are the cancers of Philippine society.
If they were smart, they would offer solutions instead of lame insults in a time of crisis. Criticising the President’s meals, the way he talks, or his general appearance only reflects on their appalling character. Unfortunately, they make a lot of noise and the members of mainstream media allied with the Opposition amplify their every word. With the way they blame everything on the government, the Opposition conveniently forget that there is a pandemic and a lot of countries are into their third wave and are also imposing nationwide or city lockdowns.
The time for politics is not during a pandemic. But one can be forgiven for thinking that the Opposition prefer it when the number of infected cases are up. Instead of helping find a solution to the crisis, they use the crisis to build a case against Duterte. Their character is unfortunately a window to how a lot of Filipinos think. They are incapable of pushing their own interests aside for the sake of the majority. They can’t temporarily suspend their campaign mode of operating while people are suffering. They are all about taking the opportunity to get back in power.
To be fair to other Filipinos around the country, the lack of progress is more evident in Manila and its surrounding National Capital Region (NCR). The region is so densely-populated that it is not really surprising that the number of people infected with COVID-19 is high and keeps going up. Likewise, the people in this region lack the discipline to observe measures put in place to control the spread of the virus. It is quite predictable really that the cases are up. How can one expect the government to control the spread of COVID-19 when a lot of people do not have the discipline to consistently practice social distancing? A lot of people do not have discipline full stop. You can see it in the way they drive on the road, for example. They have no regard for others. Then they blame government for the traffic mess.
On a positive note, the number of recoveries from COVID-19 proves that majority of those infected can cope with the disease. As of this writing, there are about 795,051 total cases but there are also 646,100 recoveries. That is remarkable. There should be more information on those who died after contracting the virus. Do they have pre-existing conditions? Did they lead a heathy lifestyle or not? Are they older or younger? From what demographic do they come from? The answers to the questions can help people analyse the situation properly and help a lot of industries deal with the pandemic. It could mean that COVID-19 is not as deadly to the majority of people as the media reports it to be. It could mean that authorities need to provide more protection to the vulnerable or people with certain conditions in society.
Those who are in power now need to use this opportunity to analyse how to move forward from this crisis. After all, it’s not just the economy that is suffering, it’s also people’s mental health for being locked in and being required to wear masks, all of which were measures not meant to be permanently in effect. The whole experience is inhumane and can scar people for years.
The COVID-19 pandemic can be a catalyst for Philippine society to improve the country’s situation and its ability to respond to disasters and crises that are sure to come in the future. Filipinos should take this challenge and learn from it. Every crisis is an opportunity to change for the better. The question is, are the Filipino people up to the challenge?
- The Philippines was a crisis waiting to happen even before COVID-19 struck - April 7, 2021
- Leni Robredo’s dishonesty and grandstanding during disasters is turning Filipino voters off - November 20, 2020
- Instead of blaming the gov’t for the rise in COVID-19 cases, people should take responsibility for keeping their communities safe - August 3, 2020
- Maria Ressa’s criminal conviction is a victory for the Filipino people - June 16, 2020
- ABS-CBN shutdown will strengthen Philippine institutions and compel Filipinos to follow the law - May 8, 2020