We should follow the example of Taiwan
SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Valeriano Avila (The Freeman) - May 8, 2020 - 12:00am

I salute The FREEMAN editorial last Tuesday May 6th when it said, “A video of the distribution of the Social Amelioration Program to beneficiaries in one of the barangays in Lapu-Lapu City has made rounds in social media recently. In the video you can clearly see a crush of people waiting for their turn. The crowd is huge and impatient, eager to get their share, and crowding ever closer to each other as barangay officials try in vain to impose order. While order was indeed imposed eventually, there is no telling if the damage has been done.

We cannot blame the crowd for their impatience; there is no doubt that many of them have gone for weeks without work or without earning any income and are anxious and desperate to provide for themselves and their loved ones. And when desperation kicks in, you can expect all rules to go flying out the window. Still, the obvious rule of physical distancing --which no doubt has been drilled into everyone by now because of this global pandemic-- should have been followed. It is unguarded occasions like these that can undo what we have been working so hard and so carefully to protect.”

Thank you for this great editorial revealing how undisciplined we are as a people. Mind you in Japan, they belatedly decided to fight COVID-19. However, after two weeks of this struggle they have flattened their curve and are now about to return to normal life without any Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) simply because Japanese are a disciplined people, unlike us Filipinos. We are still in this mess after 40 days of ECQ simply because our people are so ill-disciplined and ignorant about our unseen enemy.

The same can be said with Vietnam or Taiwan which has fought the COVID-19 without resorting to a lockdown for as long as their people observed physical distancing, face masks, and washing of hands which can stop or at least slow down the spread of this virus. With a cure still under research, we Filipinos should look up to Taiwan or Vietnam so we can move forward.

All it takes is just one infected person to infect several others, and the number grows exponentially from there. In short we need the cooperation of everyone in order to flatten our curve and prevent the spread of the virus to people who have not been infected. What we need today are responsible citizens who live within a barangay or sitio who would warn people who do not follow the rules. When we have those people within the community then we shall indeed flatten the curve!

* * *

The big news of the day is that the battle for the franchise renewal of broadcast giant ABS-CBN is back in Congress after the network signed off in line with a cease-and-desist order from the National Telecommunications Commission. Call it the blame game if you wish, but we know why Congress did not give any importance to the approval of the ABS-CBN franchise in the first place; they wanted to do it as we get closer to the election, when these congressmen can get more than enough concessions from the owners of the network.

In the meantime, Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez proposed that the House may opt to grant a temporary franchise to ABS-CBN should the chamber fail to immediately approve the renewal application. Rep. Rodriguez, who heads the constitutional amendments panel, filed a joint congressional resolution granting a provisional franchise to the network, valid until the end of the 18th Congress on June 30, 2022.

Again, it doesn’t change things. Congress should enact a law that would disallow media networks, radio, or TV from getting any franchise for the simple reason that this infringes on the Freedom of Speech provision of the Constitution. I’d like to point it out that the bill which was to renew the ABS-CBN’s franchise has been pending in Congress since 2016. The million-peso question we would like to know is, why hasn’t Congress acted on it?

Of course, no one predicted that this COVID-19 would put a halt into almost everything that happens in this country, so now Congress is in a panic mode. So why not look for a permanent solution to this problem and stop asking media outlets for a franchise?

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