Pandemic virus and terrorist problems

INTROSPECTIVE - Tony F. Katigbak (The Philippine Star) - September 9, 2020 - 12:00am

If it wasn’t so sad and terrifying, it would be comical how 2020 just seems to keep throwing challenges and obstacles our way. Every time we think we have somewhat gotten a grip on a current situation, we get thrown another curveball and we have to make changes and adjustments and find another way through. Honestly, this entire year feels like Murphy’s Law, and it’s only September.

If we turn around and look back at what we’ve already been through, it seems like it’s more than enough for one decade, let alone eight short months. Globally we’ve had fires, volcanoes, and of course a worldwide pandemic that we are still in the middle of. In the country, we’ve dealt with ashfall from angry volcanoes, earthquakes, diseases, hospital overflow, civil unrest, and the highest unemployment rate to date. People are sick, and others are starving while trying to find work and transportation.

I know I am not the only one who is hoping for some form of respite. Any little win is taken straight to heart as a small silver lining in an otherwise bleak situation. Unfortunately, the silver linings are very few and very far between and it looks like 2020 isn’t done with us yet.

On top of the news of hospitals already reaching their breaking point, we went back to modified enhanced community quarantine to bring down the curve and give our healthcare workers the help and support they badly need. I am as stir crazy and scared as the rest of the population, but I consider myself fortunate that I have a home to stay in and our family did our part, only going out for essentials and continuing with all the strict safety protocols.

We’ve since switched back to general community quarantine and I can only hope our sacrifices have helped make a difference. Every time I feel bad about being told to stay home or feel trapped being inside all the time, I think about those who are on the frontlines and I am reminded that our sacrifice is small compared to theirs. Honestly, I’ve had some eye-openers in the past couple of weeks. My daughter’s good friend, a nurse, fighting tirelessly on the frontlines has tested positive and is in quarantine, and another colleague whose family member had a stroke had to go to six different emergency rooms before being seen. The problem is real and we all need to do our part.

As I mentioned above, in true 2020 fashion, it doesn’t stop there. As if we didn’t have enough to worry about, we have real terrorist threats on the horizon as well. On Aug. 24, twin bombings happened in Sulu killing 15 people and injuring at least 74 others. As if an invisible virus to battle wasn’t bad enough, we now have people harming people and conducting terrorist activities in the country as well.

Unfortunately, there is no other recourse but to face the problem head-on and try to find a solution. The President visited the blast site and ended nearly a month-long self-imposed quarantine to see the military and police affected by the recent terror threat. From there the President went straight into Inter-Agency Task Force meetings for updates about the pandemic and the coronavirus fight initiatives.

It’s a lot on his plate, but now, more than ever, we need the government on target and making solid plans for the people. The population is scared and the uncertainty of the future hangs heavily over people’s heads. We find ourselves in a very precarious situation. If we can’t successfully battle the disease, we’ll have no future. But if we can’t also drive back economic growth there may not be a future to get back to. To top it all off, if we can’t get a handle on terrorist threats, more lives could be lost and the economy will suffer even further.

I don’t envy our officials with the task they face, but I hope they are swift and fair with their actions. According to the news, the Philippine National Police (PNP) is pursuing the suspects over the recent bombings in Jolo. They are looking at Mundi Sawadjaan, a sub-leader of the Abu-Sayyaf who was identified by local officials and the military. Operations to smoke him and his accomplices out are underway, while a bounty has been placed on those responsible for the bombing. I hope these operations are safe and successful.

It’s been a rough past eight months and I won’t make the mistake of asking what else could go wrong, because with the type of year we are having, the sky’s the limit and I don’t want to test fate. At the end of the day, despite all of the challenges I hope we can do our best to work together to make it through. If there’s anything that this year has proven, it’s that we can’t do it alone so we need to make an active commitment to doing our part – whatever that may be.

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