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Opinion

Goodbye 2021, hello 2022

AS A MATTER OF FACT - Sara Soliven De Guzman - The Philippine Star

Headlines around the world remind us how tough 2021 was compared to 2020. But will 2022 be better? Abangan!

Just as we were closing the year, Malacañang announced Alert Level 3 from Jan. 3-15. From three digits, our cases doubled or even tripled to four digits in a matter of days. Last week, after enjoying the sight of cases in the lower hundreds, we ended 2021 with almost 3,000 COVID-19 active cases. This means we are back into the woods.

Omicron has definitely become a game changer around the world. As we were all looking forward to a brighter and better year ahead of us and hoping that the Omicron variant wouldn’t harm us, we suddenly saw surges of the COVID-19 cases spiking from Europe to America and now Asia.

The news about ‘Poblacion Girl,’ the woman who reportedly breached COVID-19 protocols, angered many but such news in the Philippines isn’t new. In the past year, I’ve heard of many people able to skip protocols because of their “connections.” There is an alleged modus operandi were some hotels are in connivance. They pretend to pick up the incoming passenger, register their names in the hotel manifesto but in reality the passengers are brought to their final destinations without having to go through quarantine. Many officers (and workers) just close their eyes to such operations because the big bosses can easily kick them out, leaving them unemployed. Sanamagan! You’ll actually be surprised to find out who encourages such acts. You would think they are good businessmen helping the country? Nah! Think twice, they just want to party and abuse power with all their money.

Anyway, Australia’s daily, The Guardian, had “Farewell to 2021... a year that was darker, stranger and even less fun than the one before.” BBC News headline, “COVID-19: WHO chief optimistic disease will be beaten in 2022.” CBS News, “Omicron tones down celebrations as the world eagerly ushers 2022.” US News, “Omicron’s New Year’s Cocktail: Sorrow, Fear, Hope for 2022.” Reuters, “Omicron dampens worldwide New Year celebrations, but London throws party on TV.” South China Morning Post, “COVID-19 experts agree: 2021 was a failure for vaccine distribution.” The Wall Street Journal, “South Africa says its omicron wave is in retreat.”

On New Year’s Day, The Philippine STAR headlined: New COVID-19 cases projected to hit 4,000 on New Year’s Day, peak may surpass Delta Wave; COVID-19 admissions in PGH nearly triple since Christmas; Alert Level 3 in Metro Manila from Jan. 3 as cases rise, Omicron raises risk.

Well, so much for anticipating what the new year will bring. Meantime, let us continue to pray, to hope and to persevere.

*   *   *

Now, that Christmas is over, let’s talk about politics. Many camps are awaiting Comelec’s decision on the disqualification case against Bong Bong Marcos. Let’s get real here for once. It is very clear in the Comelec guidelines that: Eligibility of Candidates for Presidency and Vice-Presidency is provided under: (1) The 1987 Constitution Article VII and (2) Omnibus Election Code - Article IX. Section 63 of Article IX - Qualifications for President and Vice-President of the Philippines states: No person may be elected President unless he is a natural-born citizen of the Philippines, a registered voter, able to read and write, at least 40 years of age on the day of election and a resident of the Philippines for at least ten years immediately preceding such election.

The guidelines under the Disqualifications under the Omnibus Election Code states: Political hopefuls must ensure that they not only possess the qualifications for the position they are eyeing but they must also possess NONE of the disqualifications. Batas Pambansa Bilang 881, otherwise known as the Omnibus Election Code (“Election Code”) provides for certain disqualifications. Thus, under the Election Code, the following are disqualified from running for public office: (1) Those declared as incompetent or insane by competent authority; (2) Those sentenced by final judgment for subversion, insurrection, rebellion or any offense for which he has been sentenced to a penalty of more than 18 months imprisonment; (3) Those sentenced by final judgment for a crime involving moral turpitude; (4) Those who are permanent residents of or immigrants to a foreign country, unless he has waived his status as such before judgment becomes final.

Remember that tax payment is an obligation of every citizen, whether running for public office or not. Failure to pay taxes is a crime with certain penalties. But once the court decides with finality that such crime involves moral turpitude, then a candidate becomes disqualified to run for public office.

By the way, what are these mass-oriented groups trolling around in the social media? How did they choose their presidential candidate? What right do they have to call themselves “cause oriented” – arrogantly implying that all other presidentiables are not fighting for a “cause”? What cause are they fighting for anyway?

This is a sort of snobbery in reverse. Always trying to reverse the thinking of the people to make them believe something that is not. This fanaticism is not a good sign for the conduct of a “new” government that may come into power. Why are we allowing such trepidation to reign in our midst? Why are we encouraging those faceless individuals and groups to run amok by changing facts and history and influencing the ignorant, the poor and the hungry? What is sad is that the candidates of such groups are not stopping. Neither are they doing anything to right the wrong. We better “Think Philippines 2022” before we sink together!

Gising Pilipinas!

2022

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