AS A MATTER OF FACT - Sara Soliven De Guzman (The Philippine Star) - March 1, 2021 - 12:00am

God is watching us, Mr. President. Filipinos are very prayerful. When the leader of the country tells us, “There is only one thing that can save this planet. It’s God. Maybe we should pray more,” there is something wrong.

So many things are happening around us. We are too preoccupied with our COVID-19 protocols and new COVID lifestyle, we forget our basic needs must still be met by this government. As it is, government agencies are quite weak in delivering services and in building structures needed by the citizens. Many government offices continue to work from home while many of us in the private sector have started to move on. I would advise the public not to go to any government office without calling first. You might just waste time going only to find out no one will be able to assist you.

Shouldn’t the different agencies clarify their work schedules to the public? How can we get our lives going if we are left in the dark? How can we pay certain fees, get permits and apply for licenses when there is no one there to assist us? So, how do you think we can get this country going?

You talk about face-to-face classes when the grown ups are all still tucked in the comforts of their homes, obviously hiding from the invisible enemy. You talk about face-to-face classes when most of the public and private school teachers continue to work from home? You talk about face-to-face classes when the vaccines haven’t even arrived yet? Susmariosep!

What about our food supply? You talk about boosting agriculture when provinces still require quarantine passes. How can the trucks travel from region to region when different local government COVID-19 directives are required? Talk about food. What happened to our supply of pork? Why can’t the problem be resolved? Many market vendors and suppliers seem to be peeved at the agriculture secretary. What gives?

Now talk about traffic. Light and heavy. What happens when everyone starts going out again – heavy. When it rains – heavy. Lockdown – light. Susmariosep!

On the economic front, Secretary Karl Chua advised the President to put the country under “modified general community quarantine” (MGCQ) to boost the economy. Everyone had gone haywire for a week until the UP OCTA research group put some sense into such actions, warning us that it was too early to ease the virus lockdown. Government must strengthen our COVID-19 measures first before going all out. We must be able to contain the virus.

It was quite pathetic to see how we had so many simulations and planning on the arrival of vaccines only to realize that they didn’t arrive as scheduled. The only vaccine that would have arrived yesterday is Sinovac. I hope they’re already in town as we speak. It’s funny how this particular vaccine is being passed on from one group to another. I suggest that Sinovac be used by the Cabinet members first, followed by their staff. Why shove the vaccine in the faces of our health care workers and the military? Of course, the military must always be ready to die for love of country, but that’s another story all together.

Many businessmen, politicians turned businessmen, doctors turned businessmen, are taking advantage of all the COVID-19 paraphernalia. I wonder how the Department of Industry and Trade is strictly regulating everything being sold. Take for instance face masks and disposable hand gloves. The prices have tripled in no time and the DTI doesn’t seem to have taken action. Aren’t they affected by all these price hikes and fake items on display in stores? When will they take action to protect the people from scammers?

So, what will the DTI do when the avalanche of vaccines starts coming? How are we going to be protected from the fake ones? How do we know who are legitimate distributors?

I don’t blame those who don’t want to be vaccinated. Government hasn’t really gone out on a bigger campaign on vaccination. Again, they just focused on the simulations for the arrival, the transporting, the handling and the storing process. Have you actually seen any campaign on social media, television, radio or newspapers? Nothing has been made to inform us of what to expect during and after vaccination. Nada!

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It has almost been a year since the first COVID-19 cases started to appear in the country. At first, we thought it was a case of a simple flu that can be contained or controlled. Little did we know that it would lock up the whole world in agony.

While many countries have learned how to deal with the aggressive virus, we seem to be defeated by it in many ways. Why can’t we conquer the virus? Why can’t we learn to live with it?

Ideally, all government mandated directives should be able to control the virus. If the directives are not coordinated well and if they confuse the people, the more chances we have of losing the war against COVID-19. The primary step is to get out of the bubble we now live in. But how can we achieve it if in every city, town or province is a different COVID-19 ordinance? Government must always think that we are all interconnected and so therefore, we must work together. If one city differs, we hit an obstacle – business, transactions, tourism, etc. is affected.

While most of the country is starting a new life, believe it or not, there are still provinces out there that require quarantine passes. Many people are having difficulty going to other destinations because there is no public transportation available and if there are, they are way too expensive. So, how do you expect people to return to work? Why hasn’t DOTr resolved such cases yet?

Another frustration is how public officials nowadays have already shifted to the campaign for 2022. Isn’t it disgusting to see campaign trails amidst this pandemic situation? While many people continue to suffer, we see fancy cars and motorbikes waving banners of their presidential bets going around town.

Shouldn’t Comelec initiate new campaign guidelines? Maybe start thinking of a new form of electoral process like the ones in Japan or other countries where not too much spending is needed. Don’t forget when campaign season begins we will see more holdups, money-related crimes and drug issues happening around us.

For now, government must be extra sensitive to the needs and predicament of the people. Avoid issuing nonsensical and impractical orders and later withdrawing them. As for the President’s henchmen, stop contradicting each other. Be careful of what you say or do. Listen before opening your mouth. Do realize how much unnecessary stress you are creating for your fellowmen.

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