CTALK - Cito Beltran (The Philippine Star) - May 25, 2020 - 12:00am

After two months of gloom and doom and frequent “wave-erring” on Covid-19 solutions on the part of government, Secretary Lito Galvez, the Chief Implementer of the governments response against Covid-19, gives us good news and hope that things are getting better. I will not agree that the government is “winning the war” because it’s too early and too soon to make such statements. Lets just all agree that the initial goal of containment is on the horizon. Hospitals and quarantine stations have been set-up, front liners have better protection and knowledge about how to work safely, the public has begun to learn and accept the need for health safety protocols such as using masks, social distancing, hand washing and minimizing exposure. And yes the statistics and data, delayed and insufficient as they may be are beginning to tell a hopeful story that cases and incidents are on the decline. 

The BIG “But” however is that all of the good news from the Chief Implementer Secretary Galvez are the goals we set in the month of March. The question now is what are the “New Set of Goals” for June onwards when we attempt a slow dance towards the new normal? What are the strategies and policies, and who will be playing in this “second series”? At work or at play, when someone commits repeated mistakes, fouls or when the team can’t seem to apply a game plan, the Coach or the CEO needs to call a time out and replace some people. The problem is our “Coach”, President Duterte does not seem to realize that he has become over dependent on his team who in turn don’t seem to realize that they need to “call a friend” or ask for help because they have hit the level of Respective Incompetence referred to in the book “The Peter Principle”. Our government officials are all qualified for normal circumstance but the Covid-19 Pandemic requires more than loyal political supporters from San Beda or referred by political patrons.

If this were a game of, let’s say basketball (which it’s not), there are enough reasons to send in fresh players or replace several players and give them a rest. The fact is, the “First 5” or the entire offensive team is simply tired and are showing signs of burn out. We already know about how Secretary Duque was corrected on his wave-erring medical assessment by the Presidential spokesman who is now beginning to sound more like he is the Chief Implementer than spokesman, how the NCRPO Chief of the PNP had to be rescued by the Chief PNP and their Commander in Chief for being in the center of an anti-social distancing party, how the implementation of the SAP or Social Amelioration Program has caused as much pain and disappointment as it has brought relief, and how on numerous occasions the IATF declarations have been given and taken back showing that sometimes the right hand does not know what the left hand is doing. And let’s not forget 25,000 to 40,000 OFWs stuck in Lala land due to pathetic data handling during Covid-19 testing.

Last week, I dedicated a lot of air time on our show AGENDA (Cignal TV and Onenewsph Facebook) to find out if the IATF and national government officials have actually consulted with experts and leaders in the private sector? The response was a resounding “NO” or “We’re just waiting”. After the initial consultation of health experts and former Secretaries of Health with President Duterte, the DOH and the IATF has apparently taken the “Lone Ranger” route. Ironically, the private sector has continuously been propping up many government strategies with their unsolicited support by donating billions of pesos in cash and kind particularly PPEs for front liners, building mass quarantine stations, donating millions of pesos worth of testing equipment, and lending out buildings and spaces that saved the government billions in potential construction costs, not to mention paying hundreds of millions in corporate taxes in advance. Sadly, the unsolicited but highly appreciated billions of pesos worth of help by the private sector seems to have given our government officials the false impression that they are “Winning the war” on their own as they continue to do things on their own.

Many national and local officials have actively “Infantilized” the general population as well as experts and leaders in the private sector. In case you are unfamiliar with the word, here’s the dictionary definition: Infantilize – To treat (someone) as a child or in a way, which denies their maturity in age or experience. The fault is not entirely Filipino because the World Health Organization started the idiocy by first denying we had a “socially” communicable disease and decided too late in the game to declare a global pandemic! They followed this up by saying people 60 years up were high risks all because their data was based on the cluster of deaths that took place in facilities that cared for the elderly. Unfortunately, many local officials have scaled up the infantilization of the Filipino people by taking away our right to exercise in public parks or beaches, by limiting us to two days to buy food and supplies while cramming several barangays into those two days just like Pasig City. By saying we can go back to work but how we get there is our problem. By telling us we can’t step out of our homes but we must pay our income taxes or else, while they investigate utility companies for sending out bills based on “averaging” because meter readers were not exempted from ECQ! Worst of all, we now have the Barangays, the lowest level of government, with the least amount of resources and personnel directly in-charge of containing and stopping Covid-19 all over the country while the rest of the citizenry are confined to quarters!

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E-mail: utalk2ctalk@gmail.com

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