The voodoo governors
The drugstore was quite crowded, so the man sidled up to the saleslady at the counter and whispered, “Do you have condoms?” The clerk said “Yes.” He asked, “Do you have them in ‘extra large’?” The clerk replied, “No sir, they are extremely expandable, one size fits all,” as she handed him a condom. “Good!” the man said, then asked, “Do you have a fitting room?”
At this point, the saleslady knew she had a cuckoo before her and strained her neck to locate the security guard, without success. When she looked back at the man, he was gone. The saleslady had a foreboding of trouble. She could lose her job because of this. She had a hunch and went to the bathroom. Upon opening the door, sure enough the man was there. He was trying to pull the condom over his head. “Ay!” the saleslady said, “It’s not for there!” The man said, “I know, but my wife rides with me on my motorbike and I was told we need to wear protection against COVID-19.”
Ridiculously funny story, but how different is this from the types of anti-COVID-19 protective devices between husband and wife riding tandem on motorcycles that are being imposed by the government? The first prototype proposed by Gov. Arthur Yap of Bohol has a metal pipe and plastic separator between rider and passenger, bolted to the motorcycle frame. The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases “eyeballed” the design and promptly approved it. Which means if you pass a police checkpoint with that spouse shield, you pass. Malacañang has approved this design.
At least the spouse shield is not limited to the signature Arthur Yap design. Others may come up with similar designs. So there has been a flurry of creative improvisations, like a small table with the folding feet still attached. If this is acceptable, why not an ironing board or white board? Most common shields use PVC pipes and plastic. Some devices are strapped to the front rider’s back; others are held by the back rider. Some are now part of the motorcycle; perhaps they will soon be OEM on Philippine motorcycles. Motorcycle accessory producers have quickly produced professionally executed designs to cash in on this business opportunity that voodoo governance has opened up. The plastic apparatus is elegant and light, but it costs P1,500. This opportunity is also for microentrepreneurs.
Even with a spouse shield, the motorcycle-riding couple’s problem becomes one of statistics. There are thousands of police out there. You may pass the “eyeball” test of one police, but fail that of others. After all, eyeballs of the police come in different shapes and sizes, and the police academy does not have a course on the eyeball evaluation of COVID-19 spouse shields.
What is the rationale for requiring these wife shields again? If the idea is to prevent the front rider from passing infectious human droplets onto the back rider, wouldn’t two riders BOTH wearing facemasks and full-face motorcycle helmets do the job? Where is the evidence that shows that this method is inferior to the Arthur Yap or similar design, now severely criticized for being unsightly and dangerous, making the motorcycle look and act like a sailboard on the road? For that matter, how about the back rider wearing an upper-body-only PPE? Are there tests of the efficacy of these alternative solutions to enable evidence-driven policy?
Add to this spouse shield hurdle the husband-and-wife test. What proof will the police accept? This is an entirely different “creatives” arena that will enliven the livelihood of document artists of Recto Avenue. It is ironic that document-faking has survived as a tradition in a street whose name evokes integrity and uprightness.
There have been so many valid reasons for the voodoo spouse shield solution to be restudied, but the authorities are unyielding, as if the people arguing logically for better policy and its enforcement are an affront to government authority. Evidence of voodoo governance is no longer few and far between; it is now so mainstream. Apart from Yap’s voodoo spouse shield, there is also Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia of Cebu with her voodoo tuob prescription for COVID-19. Of course, the flagship of voodoo governance is none other than the so-called governor of the Philippine province of China’s recommendation, just jestingly we are assured, to use gasoline for killing the coronavirus. He will be making another astounding speech today. I do not know who infected whom, but these governors from the south better practice social distancing.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.