Wall of shame

LOOKING ASKANCE - Atty. Joseph Gonzales - The Freeman

There must be no end to the insensitivity and stupidity of those in government, specially the honchos at the Department of Health (let’s just pretend it’s not all Health Secretary Francisco Duque’s doing).

A plan to build a memorial wall for the fallen heroes in the medical community? What on earth has possessed them? Did Trump infect their brains with his passé Mexican wall proposal? (I have other theories, but I have enough mud to sling, as it is).

Our medical frontliners aren’t receiving the hazard pay promised. Not that their pay was hefty, to begin with. Their pitifully inadequate compensation is a major reason nurses and doctors troop off to higher-paying jobs in first-world countries. So the hazard pay, etc. was meant to compensate them, somewhat, for their sacrifices. Yet --get this-- some nurses are receiving less than ?100 extra in their paycheck! That's an outright scandal.

These frontliners are also already staging rallies at their workplaces, if not walking out of their critical jobs at short-staffed hospitals. So, instead of resting from a day of fighting death, so they can come back refreshed the next day, here they are picketing for what is concededly a just cause. But does this galvanize our officials to expedite releasing their pay?

Nope. The response is to dream up this hare-brained idea of a wall.

Apologies to the naive who think this is a good idea (as an opinion writer for another publication pontificated, this wasn’t bad, except for the timing). Nope, I scream and demand to disagree. This is a spectacularly idiotic idea with nothing to merit it, except as a means to allow for more kickbacks to those involved.

The Philippine College of Physicians, Alliance of Health Workers, Filipino Nurses United, and other associations have it right: just use the money to fund the welfare of the living. There are still frontliners who are still in the middle of battle --why don’t we honor them with all the funds we have? They’re still alive. So in order to incentivize them, we should be throwing money their way! Bombard them with happiness --with weapons like free housing! A new car, staggering medical coverage and vacations in island resorts!

We don’t have money? Of course we do. Just don’t spend it for non-essentials. Like this wall. And the salaries of those useless marshals trying to catch curfew violators. Or of those procurement officials who can’t even screen bidders to prevent Chinese fugitives from transacting with the government.

All the savings we get from not paying these salaries can be aligned. We could even use everything already found in the budget to keep our doctors and nurses alive! Their supply is finite, correct? It’s not as if the Philippines is churning out doctors and nurses with the same speed as OnlyFans accounts.

Even the salaries of those in government should be realigned and directed towards doctors and nurses. No more perks for the flunkies and non-essentials. All secretaries, undersecretaries, assistant secretaries, and assistants to the assistants should serve pro bono. Give up their cushy benefits for a worthier cause.

A wall means nothing. It will be just a collection of overpriced stones. It will bring no excitement, grand sentiment, even false camaraderie in this current “war”. And by the way, as it’s proposed to be situated in Manila, it will mean absolutely zilch to those in the provinces, except as a means to foster more resentment at the shortsightedness of those in the capital.

A wall will be a callous reminder that even while real heroes have been slugging it out for over a year, their government doesn’t have their backs. Nope. While the backs of our heroes are turned, this government will stone them to death.


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