‘Reason’ vs ‘rant’
CTALK - Cito Beltran (The Philippine Star) - December 6, 2019 - 12:00am

In his letter to the Ephesians (4:26), St. Paul counseled his readers: “In your anger, do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.” Clearly, St. Paul understands that it is in our human nature to be angered or angry for certain reasons. Church leaders even refer to “Righteous Anger” that is triggered by injustice, immorality, greed, or abuse of power.

Two nights ago, I watched President Duterte manifest what to him was righteous anger, believing that his attack on water concessionaires and oligarchs was justified because of the way they have conducted business with government both past and present. To be honest many Filipinos have felt such righteous anger against the “rich” or the powerful and have called upon government to take action against certain injustices. The problem however is that in many cases, government officials were part and party to crafting and causing those very injustices and unjust agreements entered into by the Republic of the Philippines. Sadly, many of those officials have long left office, some even dead and departed. Unfortunately for the corporations, they are left with the contracts and find themselves with cross hairs on their backs and an angry snarling President in their face because the Duterte administration is left with the bill or the penalty resulting from the erroneous contracts entered into by past governments. Ever since the Republic was established, vested interests and corruption between politicians and businessmen have been part and parcel of almost every negotiation, contract and project. It has always been about getting an advantage or a better deal. To this day, there are people in government whose actuations and actions are suspected to be in favor of former employers, clients or business associates. 

The sad reality is that if President Duterte dared government officials and said: “He who is without sin, cast the first stone,” chances are a number of them would walk away if they had a Christian conscience because “sin” exists among many, maybe less obvious, less greedy, less vulgar, but sin nonetheless in terms of accommodations, preferential treatment, advanced information and tip offs, or lobby accommodations for their friends. Nothing earth-shattering but we have “all sinned” as evangelists would say. The only thing that sets people apart is whether they are perceived as “Friend” or “Foe,” Critic or Supporter, Oligarch or Business partner. I admire the President for his barefaced – unfiltered expression of displeasure, but after having ranted publicly, it is now time to objectively address the recurring sins entered into by governments and corporations.

If St. Paul counsels not to sin in anger, I humbly suggest to the President not to make things personal or get personal. Let your lawyers at the DOJ and OSG do their work, let your congressional allies do their work, but don’t push things to the point where your righteous anger and venting becomes the self-canceling factor that scares investors and businesses away from the Philippines. You may say that you don’t give a damn, but there are many of us who do. Your leadership and political will has greatly propelled the nation and the economy forward and the worst thing you could do is to ruin it all just because of an impassioned speech rather than a strategic plan to correct whatever disadvantages or unjust provisions there are in contracts entered into by your predecessors. Let us not adopt a “They can leave if they don’t like it attitude” or the “Go to Hell” because our actions and decisions will affect future administrations, future Presidents, and most importantly future generations of Filipinos, long after all of us have gone to meet our maker or the tormentor in hell as the case may be. We are merely caretakers of the Philippines today and the best thing to do is to make sure that we correct the wrong done in the past by fixing things today by law, through the Justice system and with no prejudice to none. Things must be done with reason not rage because if we don’t, our very own righteous indignation could also be used as justification or cause of action by several administrations down the road.

I have always reminded my daughter Hannah every time she was about to have a meltdown: “Hannah – Head Not Heart.” May we all find peace beyond understanding even in the midst of our righteous indignation.

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Things seem to be heating up quite a bit as far as the proposed Maximum Drug Retail Price or Price Control of the DOH is concerned. Failing to get much coverage and support from mainstream media, pro-price control groups have pumped things up on social media while DOH Secretary Francisco Duque seems to have taken on a sharper tongue in his portrayal of drug manufacturers. In response, drug industry reps have brought focus on what is referred to as “incomplete staff work” of the DOH. No substantial or proper consultation of industry members and companies and snubbing the substantial counter proposal of the pharma sector composed of price reductions, a NO EXPIRY of medicines program, modernization of inventory and warehousing of medications for DOH, and fielding of mobile clinics to key locations as well as far flung areas where primary care is non-existent.

It seems that Sec. Duque and the DOH have adopted a No Compromise position believing that by labeling the pharma industry as price vultures and emphasizing on excessive retail prices, the DOH will win the price war. The problem is every week, somebody seems to put holes on the DOH initiative. For instance, I recently found out that “Lipitor,” a maintenance medicine for high blood pressure manufactured by Pfizer is one and the same product sold as a branded generic product of Rhea. Under the Pfizer brand Lipitor sells higher due to branding, marketing and distribution costs as well as product insurance. As a generic product of Rhea, there is relatively less cost. There are several other examples in the market, which tells us that if people want to save money or pay less, they simply have to insist on a generic or lesser costing medication. The problem is we mostly want the best but complain about the cost. Again this is what the DOH should focus on; consumer education and availability.

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Email: utalk2ctalk@gmail.com

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