More than heroes

SENTINEL - Ramon T. Tulfo - The Philippine Star

Health care workers (HCWs) – doctors, nurses, nursing aides and other hospital staff – are not “heroes” as the grateful public describes them.

They are more than heroes; they are martyrs. Many of them have died on the altar of COVID-19.

And yet, the government – particularly the Department of Health – does not seem to recognize the sacrifice of these modern-day martyrs.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III seems to care more about maintaining his P13-million Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar Ultra watch and super-luxurious Ferrari cars than he cares about the welfare of health care workers. A lower-priced second-hand Ferrari costs P12.9 million.

Duque flaunts his three Ferraris – yes, you heard right, three – in his village at La Vista, a multimillionaires’ haven in Quezon City.

While many HCWs throughout the country are being afflicted by COVID-19 every day, infected by their patients, Duque’s helpers drive his Ferraris around La Vista village to heat them up lest they break down due to being idle.

If the HCWs make good their threat to walk out of their jobs – through sit-ins and mass resignation – because they’re not being given hazard pay and special risk allowances, the citizenry has nobody to blame but Duque.

When the HCWs go on strike, who will tend to patients afflicted with COVID-19?

People who have reached the end of their patience may do something drastic against Duque and his cohorts at the Department of Health and other agencies of government in charge of disbursing the funds for HCWs.

*      *      *

Sen. Ping Lacson hit the nail on the head when he asked Lloyd Christopher Lao why he had to buy face shields, when the Philippines is the only country in the world that makes the wearing of face shields over face masks mandatory.

Lao is the former head of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM)’s Procurement Service, which bought face shields and face masks at an apparently grossly overpriced amount.

DBM bought the face shields at P120 each when its price in the market is about P35 apiece, and face masks at P27.72 each when its price is about P8 apiece.

Lao said there was a high demand for face shields and face masks, prompting him to buy them at an astronomical cost.

“How could you justify high demand (of face shields) when the Philippines is the only country in the world that mandates the use of face shields among its citizens? And we’re talking of international market, hindi ba (aren’t we)? Those face shields were imported,” Lacson asked Lao during a Senate Blue Ribbon committee hearing.

By the way, whose idea was it to mandate the use of face shields over face masks?

Was it Duque or Carlito Galvez, head of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (there goes the Filipino’s penchant for using hifalutin titles for lackadaisical or useless agencies – RTT)?

President Rodrigo “Digong” Duterte said that he saw no more need for the use of face shields during a meeting with Senate President Tito Sotto.

Why did the President change his mind?

*      *      *

The President has once again defended his friend Michael Yang, who has been linked to the gross overpricing of face shields and facemasks, saying he knows him very well.

Yang, a Chinese from Mainland China who speaks in broken Tagalog and Bisaya but not English, started as a businessman 20 years ago in Davao City, where Digong was mayor.

With due respect to the President, my friend of a little less than 30 years, he apparently doesn’t know what Yang does behind his back.

Michael Yang, whose Chinese name is Yang Hong Ming, has been using the President’s name for his own ends.

When I was special envoy to China, I invited Mainland Chinese tycoons to invest in the Philippines. This was part of my job description.

Yang Hong Ming’s name would invariably come up during my conversations with prospective investors.

Yang told them, the tycoons claimed, that no Chinese investor could invest in the Philippines without passing through him.

Yang said he was a member of Digong’s Cabinet and would then hand them his calling card that introduced himself as “presidential economic adviser.”

Yang said all special envoys to China were his subordinates, according to the prospective investors.

His fellow Mainland Chinese consider Yang’s overbearing manner repulsive. One of them asked me why Mr. Duterte tolerates him.

The local Filipino-Chinese community feels the same way towards Yang.

*      *      *

Michael Yang reminds me of a guy named Max (his family name escapes me now) during the administration of President Joseph “Erap” Estrada.

Max was an Indian (the politically incorrect term is bumbay – presumably from “Bombay”) from Hong Kong who would stand by the door leading to Erap’s office in Malacañang.

He would ask people – even Cabinet members – wanting to see Erap what their purpose was for visiting the President.
Max’s antics were tolerated by Palace insiders because of his closeness to Erap.

They humored Max, who thought he was a Cabinet official.

Max was Erap’s tailor in Hong Kong.

A Filipino saying about a fly on a carabao aptly describes Michael and Max.

A fly that lands on a carabao feels itself to be higher than the carabao, goes the saying.

*      *      *

Joke, joke, joke!

A middle-aged couple wanted a son after having two beautiful daughters.

The wife became pregnant, and gave birth to an ugly boy.

“There’s no way I can be a father to this baby – just look at the two beautiful daughters,” the husband said.

“Have you been fooling around behind my back,” the husband asked his wife.

The wife smiled sweetly and said, “No, not this time, darling.”


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