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HOWIE SEE IT: The 6-years standup comedy special

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By Atty. Howie Calleja

President Duterte has proudly announced that Russia developed the world’s first vaccine against the deadly COVID-19 virus. Is this our savior and our glimmer of hope? Or will the efforts to safely administer the vaccine become another joke coming from the President?

While it seems the whole world has turned upside down, the one thing we can count on is humor from Malacañang. Though humor can bring levity in times of pain, one must read the room. The country needs less of a comedy special and more of a recognition of the serious state of our nation; with everything being so delicate, the country needs leaders who won’t just say “sampalin yung veeerus” 5 months into the world’s longest lockdown – the curve has not been flattened, the virus infections are increasing. But still, the jokes continue – using jet skis to stake our claim in the South China Sea, using gasoline as a disinfectant, and now saying that he would be the first to be vaccinated despite not being qualified. It seems that even when attempting to portray himself the hero, nothing can be taken seriously.

Our President’s words cannot be dismissed as mere antics; there needs to be accountability. Malacañang of all places, cannot be a comedy club – it has the authority and should be a platform for truth and integrity. To misrepresent important issues, and label them as jokes, is to sully the name of the office. His cabinet has the role of advising the President and briefing him on matters of importance, not to laugh alongside him. When these important issues are labeled as laughable matters, they only deceive the public into believing the issues are not as serious as they actually are.

We cannot actually “Heal As One” from COVID-19 until the government confronts the problem and recognize their mistakes n incompetence and stop blaming game against its own people We have been pitted against each other, blame has been deflected, and scientists have been ignored, and at the same time #StealAsOne. We need a President who will only speak the truth, one who will take responsibility and one who will give our scientists and medical professionals a platform instead of accusing them of belittling the administration. The president’s midnight press con is not a comedy show where everything has to be filtered as half-truths; actions n pronouncements should bringing peace and prosperity, directing our nation’s economy, appealing to the hearts of the people, and it is the face of our nation to the global community. Continuously making jokes is not only detrimental to our diplomatic efforts, but it also divides the people on the issues that affect them.

Rather than making another joke about him being the first to be vaccinated, perhaps the President can look at creating a plan that is most effective for the nation. This should not be about making noise or having a Messianic complex, this is about getting things done properly and safely. We have to wait for the scientists; it is clear that phase 3 of the Russian trials have yet to be published and we must be patient for the results. There is too much at stake to allow it to push through without ensuring safety. Let us not repeat the mistakes of the Dengvaxia controversy, because this will be even more difficult to recover from.

At the heart of the issue, we have recognized that safe vaccination implemented nation-wide cannot happen anytime soon. This cannot be rushed and we must learn from our mistakes. Further, we must recognize that our leaders pretending to “sacrifice” themselves is not only unhelpful, it is only a distraction from the real issues. We ask that you test it properly before administering on anyone and finally look to our scientists, who should be the real leaders in a public health crisis. After more than 5 months into quarantine with no concrete plan, our weekly Monday late-night jokes are no longer funny.

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