Get Real

Together, we will see this through

Reader, looks like only one leg of the tripod that is needed to win the war against COVID-19 is working successfully. The first leg, our health system, is, from all reports, already inundated (at least in Metro Manila)—and this has been brought home very painfully by the news that a friend of ours was not admitted to Makati Medical Center (MMC) because there is no room. He has not been tested but he has pneumonia, and he is in the over-70 age group.

Fraternity brothers arranged for his admission at the Philippine General Hospital (PGH), but then MMC said that they would take him, as long as PGH took in one of their patients. He chose to go to PGH.


The graph tracks the rise of COVID-19 in the Philippines up to March 25, using data from the Johns Hopkins University Dashboard (which CNN and I think BBC use—it is the best). You draw your own conclusions from it, Reader, as to whether we are winning the war.

The second leg, governance, isn’t doing too well, either, despite the speedy passage of the Bayanihan To Heal As One Act, and its dramatic, post-midnight signature by the President. It gives the illusion that the government is working day and night, 24/7, against COVID-19. But that’s what it is, only an illusion. I remember the late Paeng Salas characterizing the Marcos dictatorship as “management by illusion.” Alas, that seems to be happening here, too. As Sen. Leila de Lima puts it, “Truth be told, an earnest President would be able to perform the tasks provided in the Bayanihan Act and more in fighting COVID-19 without having emergency powers…. the great mayors in Metro Manila had already done so much….with extremely limited budgets while our President practically just stood pat waiting for ‘emergency powers’ that he never really needed.”


Add how our political leaders have been behaving—and actually making the fight against COVID-19 more difficult—by jumping the line to get their testing done, and then knowing that they are at risk, still acting as if the world revolved around them. I shall not name names (P, Y, Z, to point to a few).

We’re down to the third leg, social capital. That’s us, folks. And here is where the good news overwhelms the bad news. Filipinos as a whole are doing what needs to be done. This is anecdotal, but look at the Bulacan family who gave up their emergency food package, saying that it should be given to others because they had enough; or the business firm in the Mactan Economic Zone (Fairchilds, is it?) that assured its employees of their wages, even as the firm would shut down because of the lockdown.

Or the couple who had just constructed a building near St. Luke’s in BGC and were about to rent it out when COVID-19 broke out; they offered it instead for the health workers, etc., to use—at no cost. They organized Project Food, an outreach project to provide 1,200 meals daily for 30 days to neighboring barangays. They got Hizon’s and Manila House kitchens to do it for them (at P80 a meal), and asked for contributions. They got the desired donations in one day, apparently. I will name names. They are Johnny and Charlene Escaler, with so many other friends.

Or Amelita Guevara, who has been raising funds for the PGH health workers and poor COVID-19 patients. The fund is managed by the Jesuit chaplaincy for PGH, which includes her son, Father Jem, SJ, who are all at risk as the health workers.

And, lastly, I salute my colleagues at UPSE with their Philippine Social Protection and Economic Recovery Plan, which is more comprehensive and more detailed than anything I have seen from the government at this point, complete with a first stab at the costs involved and how to raise the funds for it. Any help that is to be given to business is to be conditional on their not laying off their employees.

The third leg of the tripod is telling the second leg how it can succeed. And actually, the first leg of the tripod has admitted that without the third leg, their work cannot be done.

Keep it up, Filipinos. Together, we will see this through.


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For more news about the novel coronavirus click here.
What you need to know about Coronavirus.
For more information on COVID-19, call the DOH Hotline: (02) 86517800 local 1149/1150.

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