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Opinion

Why face shields again?

SENTINEL - Ramon T. Tulfo - The Philippine Star

Health Secretary Francisco Duque has joined in the mass hysteria over the COVID-19 Omicron variant, by proposing to return the mandatory wearing of face shields over face masks.

Duque seems to make decisions based on news reports from foreign countries and not on cold facts and scientific studies.

We’ve become the laughingstock of the world community because of Duque’s panicky posture.

The health chief said that it was just a matter of time before the Omicron variant enters our country.

The World Health Organization (WHO) rebuffed Duque’s proposal for re-imposition of the face-shield rule.

WHO representative to the Philippines Rabindra Abeyasinghe says wearing face masks, observing social distancing and frequent washing of hands should be mandatory, but not the wearing of face shields.

Most probably, Abeyasinghe has learned about the monkey business in the government’s decision to force people to wear face shields.

Governments in other countries do not require their citizens to wear face shields over face masks in public.

There’s an apparent oversupply of face shields in the market after the compulsory wearing of face shields in public was scrapped.

Officials who are given a commission for every purchase of a face shield are probably behind the proposal to reimpose the face-shield requirement.

*      *      *

While governments in many parts of the world are panicking over the spread of the Omicron variant, US President Joe Biden told Americans not to panic.

“We’ll fight this variant with scientific and knowledgeable actions, and speed, not chaos and confusion,” he said.

However, the latest news from South Africa, the origin of the Omicron variant, is heartening.

South African doctors say while there was a “sharp increase” in cases for about 10 days, the symptoms so far had been mild, especially among the vaccinated.

Dr. Angelique Coetzee, chair of the South African Medical Federation, told Reuters most patients afflicted with the Omicron variant suffered “mild symptoms” which were “treated conservatively at home.”
What can be gleaned from the reports from South African doctors? That the Omicron variant is not as bad as it is being reported in the news media.

*      *      *

Retired Army general Carlito Galvez, chief implementer of the National Task Force Against COVID-19, opposes the use by business groups of their excess vaccines on their employees.

Galvez’s reason for his refusal is that the government has the “moral and mandatory” obligation to reach herd immunity by vaccinating 77 million people out of the 110 million population.

So? What does that have to do with the private sector, which has imported vaccines for their employees but shared the bulk of their vaccines with the government out of generosity? Allow me to repeat that: out of generosity.

Why abuse the generosity of the private sector by requiring them to give their excess vaccine supply to the government?

Isn’t the government importing vaccines on its own and receiving vaccine donations from other countries?

Weren’t there laws passed setting aside huge amounts for the government to procure COVID-19 vaccines?

Private businesses signed an agreement with the government – were they compelled, or it was voluntary on their part? – for them to share the bulk of their imported vaccines with the public.

But after giving away most of their vaccine supplies that were intended for their employees, the private sector is required to give more.

There’s a term for it: greed.

Is it greed on the part of the government or on the part of Galvez alone?

*      *      *

Solicitor General Jose Calida, still euphoric over the closure of media giant ABS-CBN which he masterminded, now wants another coup that would bolster his image as a nemesis of press freedom.

Calida wants to prevent journalist Maria Ressa from going to Norway to receive the Nobel peace prize.

Many of her fellow journalists, including this columnist, think Ressa did not deserve the prestigious award.

The Duterte government has never persecuted her and her online news website, Rappler, contrary to her claims.

She was left alone to criticize the current administration for the wrongdoings of its officials.

Ressa was convicted by a Manila court of libel filed by a private individual, Wilfredo Keng, and not by any government entity.

Now, for Calida to try to prevent Ressa from going to Norway to receive the Nobel peace prize would make her claim of persecution credible to the outside world.

Calida’s claim that Ressa will not return to the country after she receives the award is a flimsy and harebrained reason.

Ressa will definitely come back because she’s Rappler’s CEO and one of its co-founders. She has everything to lose and nothing to gain if she runs away.

Calida seems to classify libel in the same category as some heinous crimes, like kidnapping, drug trafficking and murder.

Libel is an offense that journalists commit in their pursuit of truth, which sometimes hurts some people’s reputation.

In fact, many journalists consider a libel case as a badge of honor, like the military’s Purple Heart medal, which is given to soldiers wounded in combat.

*      *      *

Joke! Joke! Joke!

An arrogant anti-narcotics agent, flashing his badge at a hillbilly farm owner, said he would inspect the farm for illegally grown plants.

The farmer said, “Sure, but don’t go in that field over there,” pointing out the location.

The officer exploded, saying, “Mister, I have the authority of the government with me.” Again, he flashed his badge.

The simple farmer nodded politely, apologized and went about his chores.

A short time later, the farmer heard screams from the drug officer, who was being chased by a ferocious bull that was fast gaining ground on him.

“Help me,” shouted the officer.

The farmer dropped his tools, then ran to the fence and shouted at the top of his lungs.

“Your badge, show him your badge!”

FACE SHIELDS WHO
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