The SONA is over, let’s move on!
AS A MATTER OF FACT - Sara Soliven De Guzman (The Philippine Star) - August 3, 2020 - 12:00am

Do we really need to stir up more fuss over the SONA? The President has spoken. Love it or hate it, we need to move on. It’s such a waste of time. Our country needs to get back and refocus. We need to solve the imminent danger of the increasing number of Covid-19 cases. As of Saturday, there were 4,963 new cases bringing the total number to 98,232 confirmed cases, 2,039 deaths and 65,265 recoveries.

As we begin a new month, we must realize that we are actually back to square one. Where have we gone wrong? What have the past five months taught us? With all the data already gathered, we should be winning this battle. Why is it the other way around?

Our present plan is not working. While most countries in Asia are already in the finish line, we are very far behind. The President must change his battle plan. But first, he must discern and think about changing his guards.

Is it the mindset of this Administration or the DOH alone that has put us in this position? Are we relying too much on Secretary Duque? Why isn’t the President listening to our top doctors, scientists, and researchers? I think he should meet with them immediately without Duque or Galvez trying to override or block them.

The presidential spokesperson on the other hand, is not helping. He continues to create havoc between the researchers and Malacañang. I’m just glad the researchers continue to ignore his antics. Shouldn’t he maintain the dignity of both the Palace and University of the Philippines at this time? Why compete or start a discourse? Quite unnecessary!

By the way, the researchers from the University of the Philippines and University of Sto. Tomas are warning us again of Covid-19 cases reaching 150,000 with 3,000 deaths by the end of August. The UP Octa Research team composed of professors and alumni projected that Metro Manila may experience the following under the 3 scenarios: (1) 90,000 to 100,000 under GCQ; (2) 75,000 to 80,000 under MECQ; (3) 120,000 under eased restrictions by the end of August.

The Philippine College of Physicians are calling for Metro Manila to revert to ECQ from August 1-15 to refine the following strategies: (1) hospital workforce deficiency – medical personnel are overworked; (2) failure of case finding and isolation due to rapid testing – wrong interpretation/ handling of rapid testing; (3) failure of contact tracing and quarantine; (4) transportation safety; (5) workplace safety; (6) public compliance with self-protection; (7) social amelioration.

Maybe the government should also be more transparent. Don’t just report the numbers. Tell us where the cases are coming from so that we are informed. Is the opening of the country to returning OFWs a major contributor? What about the confusing protocols coming from the mayors? Don’t forget from the national government to the municipal level down to the barangay – the rules change. The “hepe” will always want to have the last say, thus, confusing us all the more. Sanamagan!

Programs such as Hatid Tulong may have very good intentions but clearly breaks social distancing protocols. Such programs where crowds of people gather are also culprits in the rising of the cases. Haven’t we learned from the past?

At this point, I’m not quite sure if the President is distracting us. He doesn’t seem to be hitting the target whenever he addresses the nation. The people want to hear about what the country’s direction is to fight Covid-19. But what he is telling us right now is that, in December we will win the battle with the Chinese vaccine. Ouch! For some reason he is not relieving us of our pains. We’ve had enough of China. He keeps on talking about it just like rubbing salt into the wound.

*      *      *

The Philippine Star is celebrating its 34th anniversary this month. Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, we are proud to still be surviving. Our anniversary issue last week was a hit. As usual we had a thick edition. Many thanks to all the editors and writers who made it happen not to mention our very faithful and supportive sponsors.

Looking back at history, the Philippine Star is deeply rooted from the re-emergence of press freedom after the People Power Revolution (1986) and from the lineage of the Filipino-Chinese newspaper – The Fookien Times (1926). If you look at its existence, the Star’s press and its history dates back to 94 years.

Dee C. Chuan founded the newspaper along with James Go Puan Seng who was appointed the newspaper’s editor and general manager, and later became the newspaper’s editor-in-chief and, ultimately, its co-publisher.

Throughout the 1930s, Go, the father of Betty Go Belmonte and grandfather of Miguel Belmonte (current President) used the newspaper to criticize the Empire of Japan, calling for the boycott of Japanese goods. General Douglas MacArthur warned him that he would be the first Chinese Filipino the Japanese would execute because of his writings. The newspaper shut down during World War II, during which Go went into hiding in the mountains of the Sierra Madre.

The Fookien Times resumed publication after the Philippines was liberated by combined Filipino and American troops at the end of World War II. Go resumed his role as the newspaper’s editor-in-chief. The newspaper began publishing other publications, including the Financial Journal, a weekly English-language business magazine, and the Sunday Morning Journal news magazine. It also began expanding overseas, publishing a Hong Kong edition of the newspaper, and later publishing the Philippine edition of the Sing Tao Daily, one of Hong Kong’s largest Chinese-language newspapers.

When Martial Law was imposed in 1972, Fookien Times was among the newspapers closed down by Ferdinand Marcos. Go left the Philippines for self-imposed exile in Canada and never returned.

But his eldest daughter, Betty Go-Belmonte, used the press for political-campaign materials during Cory’s time and later for the Philippine Daily Inquirer, and the Philippine Star. And the rest is history.

I can never forget visiting the press smelling the ink and the papers when I was a teenager. My late father Max would take me along to the Port area where the press still stands. Tita Betty was very sweet but firm. She would show me around despite her workload. The Star didn’t have that many staff then, so she was multi-tasking while my dad and Art Borjal produced their hard- hitting columns.

The dawn of technology in this modern age has begun to challenge all media outlets. Print is slowly being replaced with social media but the Philippine Star continues to weather the storm and shine being the country’s top seller and widely read newspaper in the country.

The truth shall prevail!

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