Decisive leadership

When this crisis is all over, the Filipino nation will be grateful that we have President Rodrigo Roa Duterte at the helm when the deadly corona virus (Covid 19) swept all across the globe.

As I write this, the total number of infections is close to 2 million, and the death toll stood at 126,000 people. The hardest hit is the United States, followed by Spain, Italy, Germany, France and the United Kingdom. China, where the virus had originated, has gone down to number seven in the list.

It is our good fortune that the Philippines is just number 35 in the list, notwithstanding the fact that international air travel to and from China wasn’t suspended until late January this year. And after a month of community lockdowns in the entire archipelago, the incidence of infections seems to have slowed down. The latest figures from WHO placed the number of Covid 19 cases at 5,223, and 335 dead.

I have been studying the movement of the corona virus closely even before the WHO raised its spread to pandemic level. And it is clear to me that the decision of President Duterte to impose a lockdown effective March 15 was an effective brake to slow down the pandemic in the Philippines.

Right from the start, the idea was met with criticism and opposition. Senate President Tito Sotto described it as “over-reaction”. It was ridiculed by media critics Karen Davila and Richard Heydarian. The members of the opposition and the left joined the chorus.

Vice President Leni Robredo also questioned why policemen and soldiers were deployed on the streets to enforce the quarantine. The pandemic called for a medical response, and not a military show of force, Robredo said. Well, it was a ridiculous statement. Did Robredo expect doctors and nurses to man checkpoints?

Anyway, countries that closed its borders and imposed strict stay-at-home quarantine measures have turned out to have lower Covid 19 infections compared to the others that lingered too long on the decision. New Zealand and Denmark stand out to prove the point that a lockdown is the most effective way to contain the disease. On the other hand, the United States is the best illustration of how deadly the delay in the lockdown turned out to be.

President Duterte has had to manage this crisis with plenty of distractions from the yellow opposition and the left. As I have been saying in my YouTube videos, there is a destabilization plot right in the middle of this crisis, obviously funded by the oligarchs and led by media giant ABS-CBN. President Duterte had his hands full every minute during this period.

But things are improving. We have deflected the usual trajectory of the corona virus infections. Instead of a spike as we have witnessed in other countries, the infection curve in the country is more like a road hump that gradually rose before levelling off. It is a positive indication that the lockdown in working.

Had the President hesitated, nightmare scenes that we have seen in the U.S. and Europe and Latin America would have sprouted all over the country, with Metro Manila as the epicenter. It was a tough decision to make. Just thinking how things would have turned out if a Mar Roxas was our president is enough to give me the chills.

Yes, the President’s decisiveness at a most crucial moment was a life-saver for the country.

Iloilo on the world stage in fight vs. Covid 19

The images of Ilonggo doctors, nurses and hospital staff wearing brightly-colored personal protective clothing have spread across the world to bring cheer and hope to the hundreds of millions of people quarantined in their homes because of the corona virus pandemic.

It just started as an idea on how to provide PPEs for Iloilo hospitals at a time when these were in short supply. A nurse at the Medical City, Andre Pe, decided medical front-liners shoudn’t have to wait until the first shipments of PPEs arrived in Iloilo City. The Covid 19 virus wasn’t about to slow down to give our hospitals time to prepare.

Pe, who has a passion for fashion design, took out his pencils and paper and went to work. He quickly drew a design for PPEs that volunteers could use to sew them. Iloilo City mayor Jerry P. Trenas came to know about the initial batch of PPEs that Pe and his group had turned out, and he saw it was an answer to Iloilo’s inadequate supply to shield frontliners from this deadly virus. He directive mass production of the PPEs.

Pe’s design called for bright colors of liquid-repelling materials. There was blue, red, pink, black and white. In a few days, the production lines were churning attractive-looking PPEs. It certainly lifted the spirits of the doctors, nurses and hospital staff that started wearing them. Instead of letting the threat of Covid 19 to worry them, they started posting pictures and videos of themselves wearing the locally-produced PPEs.

The images and videos instantly captured the hearts of people here and abroad. These were shared and reshared on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Ilonggos taught people around the world that we know how to fight this disease, and fight we will with flair and cheer. It wasn’t just about the PPEs being colorful and attractive. The effort has even adopted movie themes like “Star Wars” to add fashion flavor to the design.

The viral photos and videos also reflect the solid community effort that has been put into Iloilo’s efforts against the corona virus. Trenas and Governor Arthur Defensor, Jr., along with the local chief executives of the province, have done well to enforce the enhanced community quarantine to keep the virus from infecting more people. From the reports of the DOH, Iloilo has effectively contained the virus. The number of infections has been kept to a minimum.

On a personal note, I am saddened that a close family friend in Roxas City has become a casualty of the virus. The feeling is different when somebody you know falls victim to Covid 19. In the past, the soaring number of deaths were clinical statistics as I watched the WHO and DOH briefings on a daily basis. But when the sad news about my friend’s death reached me, I discovered that the Covid 19 pandemic is much closer to me than I was prepared to accept.

It reinforces the message that nobody is safe from Covid 19. You can never know who might be a carrier of the virus. Even a healthy looking individual can be a bearer of death. Hence, it’s absolutely necessary that we adhere to the home quarantine that’s being enforced. Just by staying at home, we can save lives. This is a crucial part of the containment strategy that is the only effective way to bring the pandemic to a halt.