No to face shields — finally!

SENTINEL - Ramon T. Tulfo - The Philippine Star

Speaker Lord Allan Velasco has joined the chorus against the mandatory wearing of face shields on top of face masks.

What took Velasco so long to make his voice heard?

Senate President Tito Sotto suggested discarding the use of face shields in public to President Digong several months ago.

The President agreed but changed his mind later, apparently upon advice from incompetent advisers, like Health Secretary Francisco Duque and retired army general Carlito Galvez who heads the hifalutin’ Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.

Had Velasco seconded Sotto’s suggestion when it was made, perhaps the Chief Executive would not have taken back his order.

But then, Velasco is much like the congressman from Taguig that he replaced as Speaker: a do-nothing, fawning politician.

The face shield is not only a useless contraption, it also makes the wearer look like a creature from outer space.

We are the only country in the world that requires its citizens to wear a face shield over a face mask.

As fellow Philippine STAR columnist Federico Pascual said: “The face shield you are required to wear on top of a fabric face mask is the proof and reminder that the leeches feeding off this emaciated country never stop looking to a chance to suck more bloody millions from us hapless victims of the pandemic.”

*      *      *

Velasco’s House of Fawners and Bootlickers is making a parallel investigation into the government’s purchase of billions of pesos in test kits, face shields and face masks from a Chinese company that only had a capital P625,000.

But the House committee on good government and public accountability seems to see nothing wrong with the deal with Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp., even if senators have discovered gross overpricing and buying of test kits which were expired or about to expire.

The House panel is the counterpart of the Senate Blue Ribbon committee.

The Lower House seems to be lenient towards former presidential economic advisor Michael Yang, who facilitated the deal, and Pharmally officials.

A leading member of the House denounced senators for trying to destroy “our President,” while his colleagues questioned the supposed propriety of the ongoing Senate probe on allegedly overpriced pandemic supplies from the small trading company that won an P8.7-billion contract.

“We must give due respect to the Commander-in-Chief and to our President and I take offense in (sic) the Senate, so impetuous (sic) that Michael Yang is beside the President and Mr. Michael Yang is a drug lord,” said DIWA Rep. Michael Aglipay.

Duh! How’s that again, Congressman?

*      *      *

Congressman Aglipay should be reminded that the Senate Blue Ribbon committee’s probe into the procurement of grossly overpriced face shields, face masks and (lately discovered) expired pandemic test kits was not made to flog the President.

Senate President Sotto, Blue Ribbon committee chairman Dick Gordon and Sen. Ping Lacson are allies of Mr. Duterte, or used to be his allies in the Senate.

The probe was made because of the contracts that were red-flagged by the Commission on Audit (COA).

It’s the job of Congress – both the upper and lower houses – to watch over how the people’s money is being spent by the executive department, its co-equal in this democratic government.

It was only after President Digong started defending Michael Yang, his long-time friend, that he got into this mess.

How I wish, as friends of the protagonists in the drama scandal, for them to sit down and talk things over.

In the eyes of the public, they’re old men acting like kids.

*      *      *

Davao City Mayor and presidential daughter Sara “Inday” Duterte-Carpio is in maldita mode again.

Maldita is a Bisayan word for spoiled brat. The description comes from her father Digong, who told me “maldita kaayo si Inday (Inday is very much a spoiled brat)” in several of my conversations with him.

Sara’s maldita streak surfaced once again, when she told the IATF she would not want her constituents to be inoculated with Sinovac and Sinopharm vaccines from China.

Duterte-Carpio said that Western vaccines – Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Moderna, Johnson and Johnson and Russia’s Sputnik – are preferred by her constituents over Sinovac and Sinopharm.

Davao City, at one point this year, was one of the areas with the highest number of infections outside the National Capital Region.

Malacañang has said the citizenry cannot afford to be choosy, as vaccines are scarce.

Vaccines have been coming in trickles, and citizens should have themselves inoculated with whatever vaccine brand is available.

The largest percentage of the vaccines available in the market is Sinovac.

President Digong believes in the efficacy of Chinese vaccines as he himself was inoculated with Sinopharm.

If the President did not choose his vaccine brand, why should the rest of the citizenry – including Sara Duterte-Carpio – be finicky?

*      *      *

The Duterte government should try listening to the private sector to open the economy.

“What we need (is) for the government to listen to the private sector. We are responsible people, we know how to maneuver, we are not going to open recklessly… Even (as) we operate under the shadow of [COVID-19], the damage will not be catastrophic,” said Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship and Go Negosyo founder Joey Concepcion.

Henry Lim Bon Liong, president of the Federation of Filipino Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Inc., agrees with Concepcion.

Reopening the economy will pump prime investments in agriculture and other businesses, according to Lim Bon Liong.

The hard lockdown, which shattered the economy, has not brought down COVID-19 cases in the country as well as it was expected to do so.

We just have to live with it.

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