EDITORIAL - Garin, Catapang immune from Ebola responsibility

(The Freeman) - November 27, 2014 - 12:00am

Right now, the Philippines continues to remain Ebola-free. But it is not something to crow about, which is exactly what certain officials in the government are doing. You cannot brag about something over which you have no control. And if the Philippines happens to be Ebola-free up to this time, it is not because of something that anyone has done with great skill and expertise. Only God knows why we remain so blessed until now.

Yet, instead of taking care of what God has willed for us, some officials seem to be doing their darn best to subvert God's will. Or to those who reject the notion of divine intervention, let is just be said that some of us are really bent on tempting the fates. which is really very very bad for the rest of us, because we just might get what they wish.

Good if these officials who recklessly throw all caution to the wind are way below the pecking order in the heirarchy of influence and authority. But they are way up there. They are no less than the secretary of health herself and the chief of the armed forces. Despite all World Health Organization protocols governing the conduct of handling persons from Ebola-stricken areas, Janette Garin and General Gregorio Catapang embarked on a publicity binge in Caballo Island.

Caballo Island is where Filipino peacekeeping soldiers who arrived back home after serving under the United Nations in Liberia were sent for a three-week quarantine and observation for any Ebola symptoms. But no sooner had the soldiers arrived than Garin and Catapang, with no protective suits but with cameras in tow, went there to hobnob with the soldiers.

Both officials first shrugged off the reckless and irresponsible stunt by saying they broke no WHO protocols, which turned out to be a big fat lie because it was later found out that their visit was indeed in breach of protocols. And then another breach of protocol was committed, apparently with the knowledge of both officials, when four more peacekeepers, left behind to wrap up things in Liberia, were sent to a military hospital instead of to Caballo Island to be quarantined.

That the four will still be quarantined in the military hospital is not the issue because of course they will have to be quarantined. The issue is that the agreed protocol would be for all returning soldiers from Liberia to be quarantined in the complete isolation of Caballo Island and that this was not followed. As to who gave the order that effectively breached this protocol, nobody now knows from among all previous spokesmen who heretofore had been quite garrulous on the issue.

And the equally garrulous spokesmen of the Aquino administration have skirted the issue like a plague, as if afraid it would light up the boards as yet another failure on its part, considering how both Garin and Catapang are appointees of Aquino. Normally, in more mature democracies, both Garin and Catapang either get fired immediately for jeopardizing national security, or have the decency to resign. Neither has happened. So let's see how this Ebola story ends for them.

AQUINO CABALLO CABALLO ISLAND CATAPANG EBOLA GARIN AND CATAPANG JANETTE GARIN AND GENERAL GREGORIO CATAPANG OFFICIALS ONLY GOD UNITED NATIONS WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION
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