The worst crisis ever in the Philippines

WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus B. Jimenez (The Freeman) - April 16, 2021 - 12:00am

It is not even the pandemic that should make us all cower in fear. Although the experts told me that before the end of May, the number of infections shall reach a million and deaths may be approaching 20,000. What should alarm us is the peoples' growing sense of hopelessness, helplessness, and an endemic loss of confidence in our institutions. People are losing trust in our government and on political, economic, social, and religious leaders. The worst crisis is a crisis of confidence. And our people are facing that crisis now. We should indeed be alarmed.

In Metro Manila, the number of cases a week ago was 359,000 out of the total of 829,000. This region accounted for 5,300 deaths out of a total of 15,000. Next to NCR is Central Luzon, with 57,000 infections and 1,100 deaths, followed by Central Visayas, which accounted for 53,000 cases and 1,800 deaths. Our region has more deaths although we have fewer infections than Central Luzon. Next is Calabarzon, with 133,000 infections and 1,700 deaths. Again, the populations of both Central Luzon and Calabarzon respectively were double the number of people in Central Visayas, and yet, mortality is higher in Region 7 compared to regions 3 and 4-A respectively. But these statistics are not really the factor that should alarm us. What matters most is the growing demoralization of our people. The morale of the Filipinos is at an all-time low and there is a growing sense of more and more disenchantment, frustrations, bordering on anger and resentment.

The people do not understand why our COVID response had been very ineffective considering that the government had ordered the longest and the most stringent lockdowns. We have crippled the economy but the outcome hardly in COVID responses is deteriorating instead of improving. Why is the Philippines COVID response worse than our ASEAN fellow member-nations despite the fact that we undertook bold and firm actions? Why is the Philippines number 29 out of 250 countries and Malaysia is just number 48 with only 357,000 infections and only 1,300 deaths, when the Malaysian government did not impose too strict and too long lockdowns? Why is Myanmar only number 57 with only 142,000 infections and 3,200 deaths? Why is China, with a population of more than 1.1 billion, which started this all, only having 90,000 infections and 4,600 deaths?

The crisis here is not just about the numbers of deaths and infectious. It is the sense of demoralization among our health frontliners. They are sick too and tired of waiting for the government. Hospitals and clinics and all medical institutions are full. There are no more rooms available. There are simply too many patients waiting outside to be allowed to be admitted. Some have died under makeshift tents, they expired without having been seen by any doctor. Many doctors and nurses are overworked, overburdened and have barely a few hours of sleep. They are vulnerable too, once their immune system deteriorates to dangerous levels. Some doctors and nurses have resigned and others have gone AWOL. Many health workers are psychologically disturbed, and are facing their own crisis too. And there are not enough oxygen tanks and other equipment and supplies. This is a very, very critical situation.

The many overpaid politicians, mostly in the House and in the Senate are mysteriously silent and scarce. They are not visible, and we do not hear from them. They must be playing their violin while Rome is burning. They are hiding in some places, with their lovers and families, safe and sound, and celebrating life, while the people who are paid hardly one-tenth of their salaries are the ones facing death and devastation at the frontlines, with over-fatigued bodies and very demoralized souls. Lord, have pity on your people.

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