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Wanted: A government that stands up

It is the height of extreme irony that the most advanced species to ever walk on earth is now cowering in fear of the most primitive entity on this planet.

Mankind has traveled to outer space, and he has built extensions of himself that go to the ends of the universe. He has expanded his reality by creating a cyberworld that now surpasses the immensity of the physical world. He has even arrogated unto himself the powers of god by cloning animals and re-engineering plants and organisms to create new living things.

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For all his intellectual prowess, for all his inventions and discoveries, mankind has been brought down to his knees by a simple virus that is considered to be merely on “the edge of life.” A virus is not a living organism, scientists say, but only an entity consisting of “structural proteins” bound together, without even a cell. It must enter the cell of a living thing in order to multiply.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, life all over the world is grinding almost to a complete halt. As a result, the value of money has been reduced to its barest minimum. Money has been stripped of its magical powers to bestow the many leisure pursuits in life—travel, watching performances, dining, and drinking in restaurants and bars, and congregating in parties and festivities. Our lives have also been stripped of vanities as the frills and luxuries we garb or surround ourselves with—branded apparels, jewelry, fancy cars, and the many other trappings that lend us the air of self-importance—have all been divested of glitter.

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Money has been unable to save the lives of those who have enough or excess of it, as we see from the initial toll of casualties. Even powerful politicians and renowned actors have not been insulated from infection. In fact, the virus is likely being passed from the top to the bottom of economic and social classes, as some surmise. The virus originated from overseas and it could have only reached our shores via those who have the luxury of foreign travel or those who hobnobbed with them. The virus is spreading from urban centers to our rural provinces.

But the essentiality of money among those who are in dire shortage of it has been rendered stark by the solution of governments to order a complete lockdown of cities and even entire countries. To be fair, the extreme solution of a lockdown is desperately needed for our very own sake. But this solution threatens our survival from a different front. It imperils our access to food and basic services. And even more heartbreaking, it endangers the very survival of the most vulnerable of our people who need to toil every single day to put food on the table.

Our own government deserves complete support for the difficult decision it made to enforce a lockdown. But at the same time, it justly deserves censure for washing its hands of responsibility to come up with a firmly laid-out plan on the proper transportation of people who ensure that our groceries are open, our utility services are functioning, our hospitals are operating, and the trucks that move essential goods are smoothly running.

It has been six days (as of this writing) since President Duterte imposed a Luzon-wide lockdown last March 16. We’ve not heard of a national guideline on how the daily transportation of essential workers should be provided across cities, despite vast executive powers to requisition bus services; of directives to local health personnel on the protocols and supplies to deal with COVID-19 patients and casualties, considering the severe shortage of hospitals nationwide, among other indispensable needs that cut across local boundaries.

Our national government has assumed a stance of standing down and shoving immense responsibilities to local governments and business conglomerates. We need our national government to step up from merely reciting a litany of do’s and don’ts, as we face the biggest crisis in our country’s history.

We need our national government to stand up for its people.

Comments to [email protected]

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