Stigma

I found it distressing to read about some people in Lambunao, Iloilo throwing stones at the residence of a family stricken with the Covid 19 disease. It shows the worst in the character of these people. It puts them at a level much lower than humanity. It is a behavior borne out of ignorance. They have no place in civilized society.

From what I read, this family is grieving, having lost a parent to this disease. The rest of the household have been found positive for the corona virus. Nobody could possibly be in a worse situation than where they’re in. They don’t deserve to be treated this way.

What the surviving members of the family needs is sympathy. It isn’t their fault that the disease found its way into their family. It happened because the fatality had travelled from Manila as the pandemic broke out. He just had the msfortune of being at an airport or some other place where large numbers of people gathered. An airport or a church or a conference hall are the most conducive places for the virus to spread.

I hope the LGU will assert its authority and provide the family protection from this kind of assault. We cannot allow the Covid 19 disease to put those it has infected under a stigma, or scorn from their fellow human beings. We have to show compassion and understanding. They need the support of the community to survive this crisis.

As I write this, there is plenty of reason to believe the pandemic is slowing down. The statistics of the last two days (I’m writing this on Wednesday, April 8) indicate that the number of new Covid 19 positive cases have started to slide. After three weeks into the lockdown, our statistics are encouraging. While it can’t be avoided that there are infections, and deaths, the numbers are far lower than what we’ve seen in other countries.

In the United States, for instance, an estimated 400,000 people have been infected. A little over 12,000 have died. And a big factor why this happened is because the U.S. government was slow in imposing strict quarantine measures. We’ve seen the same experiene in Italy, Spain, United Kingdom, France and other European nations. It puts beyond doubt that a lockdown is the most effective way to fight the virus.

When President Rodrigo Duterte ordered that Metro Manila and the rest of Luzon be put under an enhanced community quarantine, or lockdown to be more precise, there was considerable grumblings that the government was over-reacting. One of those who called the measure as a case of “over-reaction” was Senate President Tito Sotto. Other figures in the political opposition also questioned the wisdom of the lockdown.

While it might be too early to call the government’s response a success, the figures that are being reported by the Department of Health are reassuring. We have done a good job stepping on the brakes and prevented the number of cases from spiking to the level of thousands of new cases in a single day.

No government in the world was prepared for this pandemic. Compared to the U.S. and the wealthier nations, the Philippines had almost nothing in its medical arsenal to deal with the pandemic. We lacked testing kits and our hospitals were inadequately equipped, especially personal protective equipment (PPE). If infrastructure and medical supplies were to be the gauge, our country was a candidate for the worst-case scenario.

When this is over, those who had criticized the President’s directive for enhanced community quarantine will likely thank him for being decisive. And credit must go to our doctors, nurses, hospital staffs, the police and military, our LGUs and other government workers who responded to the call to wage battle with Covid 19. Words are inadequate to describe the heroism you have displayed. The country owes you a debt of gratitude.

Filipinos are a resilient people. We have always bounced back from every calamity. This one is no different. Our collective suffering might be a great deal heavier during this period. But I am confident that once we recover, we will emerge a far stronger people and nation.

Mayor tagged as ‘narco’ builds stone palace in Iloilo

President Rodrigo Duterte named him as one of the “narco-politicians” on his list on August 7, 2016. Two years later, Calinog municipal mayor Alex Centena built a huge mansion using head-sized boulders from an illegal quarry and narra hardwood from the forests of his town worth about P40 million. It was like the municipal mayor sneering at the President. Here are some pictures of his palatial home.

Boracay closure necessary for unhampered rehab work, and here’s why

abs cbn photos beachfront pipe

It’s week one since Boracay was closed to tourists and non-residents, and already DPWH technical crews have discovered a pipe along the beach that is discharging untreated waste water into the sea. In simple terms, this is like a food tube directly emptying its nutrients — human waste is a feast food for algae — into the beaches of Boracay. It confirms what many have suspected all along: that fecal matter isn’t properly deposited in septic tanks and the water it mixes with doesn’t undergo treatment and cleaning before being released out to sea.

Such work, which is like looking for needles in haystacks, could not have been accomplished if Boracay remained open to tourists as what some sectors have demanded. The measure imposed by President Rodrigo Duterte was too harsh, they argued, and only establishments found to have violated the laws, especially with respect to the water and clean air acts, should have been padlocked.

They missed the whole point. The work that needs to be done is Herculean. And for the government to carry out the mission swiftly is give the agencies involved freedom of movement and action, with not a single hindrance, to do it. How could the engineering crews have unearthed the pipes buried under the sand if there were thousands of tourists enjoying the sun, and the green algae?

We don’t know just how many such pipes have been buried, and hidden, under the sun. It’s possible there are quite a number that were buried deep and the end part far out into the sea to avoid discovery. And then there are the drainage issues that impact on flooding, and the possible trespassing on wet lands and other public spaces.

Clearly, closure was the best course of action, and we are just starting to see why.

None of the above

In his latest radio and TV advertisement, Mar Roxas portrays himself as “hindi abusado”, “hindi ma-drama”, and most importantly “hindi magnanakaw”. This is a clear swipe at his front-running rivals in the presidential race. “Abusado” is Digong Duterte. “Ma-drama” is Grace Poe. And “Magnanakaw” is VP Jojo Binay.

He also tries to appeal to the Ilonggo vote by talking in Hiligaynon.

Mar Roxas claims that all he has to offer is his willingness to work. “Trabaho lang”.

Again, Roxas wants to highlight the perceived issues affecting his rivals. He is not like them, he says. He promises to bring sincere and honest attributes to the presidency and continue the “matuwid na daan” of his sponsor, President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III.

Okay, let’s grant it to Mar Roxas: he’s none of the above.

He’s “none of the above” because he has never shown an ability to be a leader, to demonstrate a principle-based leadership, a man with a strong backbone.

He had five years to build that performance he wants to be known for. But he squandered it. In all those five years, first as secretary of DOTC and then as secretary of DILG, Roxas has nothing to show. He had everything at his disposal and yet he has no performance to boast about.

The incompetence of the man has reached legendary levels. He fumbled on every play and kept falling on his face. He simply isn’t cut to be a leader. Even his words cause him more trouble and embarrassment than anything else. He can’t be faulted for not trying hard enough. In fact, he is overdoing the things that he intended to show him as being close with the poor, to the point that he looks an idiot. How else do you describe a man who puts rice on a mug and drinks water from a plate? Even the poorest among the poor knows what a mug and a plate are for.

Roxas doesn’t also know that he is mouthing a disdained mantra — “matuwid na daan”.

The Aquino administration has presided over the biggest corruption machinery since martial law. If in the past the plunder was only by a few, this time it is robbery in band. Loyalty to the party is obtained by bribing the senators and congressmen and governors and mayors. Each is allowed a free rein to plunder in their own jurisdictions. It is not hard to understand why Franklin Drilon has become a fierce attack dog for the administration. With the billions and billions of pesos poured into Iloilo (all overpriced projects), he has every motivation to protect his masters.

By mouthing “matuwid na daan”, Mar Roxas has also embraced the label of the “ridiculous”. He is so overpowered by his belief in “matuwad” (that’s a deliberate one) that people could only laugh in private. There are now reports that Liberal Party candidates in the Visayas are beginning to abandon him. Before long, he will find himself alone.

Right, Mar Roxas is none of the above. That’s because he has never started to be anybody worth noticing.