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FLEA MARKET OF IDEAS

Manila has fallen

I’m referring not just to the old city of Manila, but to the 16 cities of the entire Metro Manila area. From the vantage point of those who are in the provinces like me, the COVID-19 contagion has overrun the National Capital Region (NCR).

From news reports, so many Metro Manila hospitals can no longer accommodate the rising number of patients infected with the virus. Sick patients from the metropolis are seeking admission in hospitals located as far as Batangas City. There are increasing reports that people are ending up dead while camped out in waiting tents outside Metro Manila hospitals. There’s also the mounting number of city residents with mild symptoms who are suddenly dying in their homes. The contagion in NCR has spread to the neighboring provinces of Rizal, Laguna, Cavite, and Bulacan where many city workers reside.

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There’s the increasing number of Metro Manila residents who are moving back to the provinces, and along with them, they’re bringing and spreading the virus. Provincial folk are wary of those who are arriving from Metro Manila, and their fears are not without basis. Categorized as “locally stranded individuals” (LSIs), Metro Manila residents are subjected to mandatory testing in the provinces, and many of them are turning out positive for the virus.

Worried that they would be quarantined in provincial facilities with decrepit accommodations, there are Metro Manila residents who try to secretly move back to their hometowns without reporting to municipal authorities. As a result, those who are asymptomatic and

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unaware that they have the virus are ending up infecting their provincial relatives and friends. The spread of the virus in the provinces can be traced back to many LSIs who did not undergo COVID-19 testing.

The physical and mental exhaustion already suffered by Metro Manila medical professionals (and all medical practitioners in the entire country, for that matter) is tremendous. I am amazed that they continue reporting for work, despite the constant danger to their lives, their deep resentment against a government that has bungled our nation’s COVID-19 response, and their bitterness against a public that has dropped its guard down.

There are so many Metro Manila medical practitioners who are contracting the virus recently. Just three days ago, 110 out of 180 employees who were tested at the Philippine Orthopedic Center in Quezon City turned out to be positive for the virus. That’s a whopping 61-percent positivity rate.

If the health crisis further worsens in Metro Manila, there’s the unimaginable danger that city health workers will call it quits in substantial numbers, and that will truly plunge the metropolis into mind-boggling chaos.

To be sure, there are provincial cities already experiencing the level of contagion similar to the NCR region. But this is due to travelers to and from Metro Manila who have brought the virus to the provinces.

My brother, Dr. Glenn Butuyan, has described in a video message that has gone viral the extreme sacrifice that health workers make: Every single day that they report for work is a “suicide mission.” They don’t know whether they will ever come back to see their families again every time they leave their houses for work. They are truly our country’s heroes. It’s blood-curdling, therefore, that we have a national government that’s wasting billions of public funds on invented emergencies out of our insurgency and drug problems, when the l war of the century” is being waged by our courageous medical professionals. Money should be poured into supporting our brave health workers who go on “hara-kiri” missions every day. The Duterte administration doesn’t get it. No matter how hard it tries to divert public attention away from the pandemic, no matter how desperate it gets in manufacturing a legacy out of its wars against insurgents and drugs, no matter how many billions of public funds it wastes for electioneering purposes, the people’s attention, President Duterte’s legacy, and the country’s elections will all be dictated by its success or failure in the war that will decide mankind’s survival.

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TAGS: Flea Market of Ideas, Joel Ruiz Butuyan, Metro Manila COVID-19 cases, NCR Plus ECQ
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