BEYOND SIGHT: Despotism in time of pandemic

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By Monsi A. Serrano

The pandemic should spur love, understanding and compassion. But while many people seem to be hopeful and bullish for the year 2021, vaccine diplomacy in the Philippines seems to be despotic.

What I find disheartening to witness is how Attorney Harry Roque, a known human rights advocate, shifts to telling his fellow Filipinos “not to be choosy” in taking state-ordered vaccines. Wow… as if many Filipinos are not aware how this administration has been subservient to China. And no matter how much they deny it, the fact never changes that this observation is true. Should we bother asking why?

First, there are other vaccines available apart from Sinovac from China, and these are the United Kingdom’s AstraZeneca, the United States’ PfizerNBiotech, and Russia’s Sputnik V by Gamaleya. 

Given the choices available, one can wonder why the Philippines prefers the more expensive Sinovac which has 50% efficacy. Sadly, if the Duterte administration has its way, they will ram Sinovac down the throats of every Juan and Juana as if it were Greek mythology’s ambrosia that will  confer longevity or immortality to those who take it.

My malicious and playful mind thinks someone is cashing in from Sinovac. Perhaps, that is why the Palace spokesman is so peppy about it, even if he already loses all credibility left in him. His pronouncements about Sinovac, giving absolute praise to it to the point of even chiding Filipinos wanting other choices is pathetic. Filipinos are not beggars, sir. Please don’t tell us, or even suggest, that we’re not entitled to a choice.

Remember how so many countries have been giving loans to the Philippines for us to buy COVID19 vaccines, but till now, we don’t have one from the Philippine government?

Many noted that the country has been cashing in from the pandemic in various ways — From PPEs to COVID-19 tests. Even if you go to other places and have a negative test result for COVID-19, you still have to undergo another test in your local destination in some provinces.

Personally, I think as we are already slowly allowing economic activities to go on, we should start it right by stopping despotic governance or the act of imposing the state’s will on our people. If you in government want Sinovac, start the jabs with yourselves, your families and loved ones. But to force it on every taxpaying citizen — with a dash of condescending remarks like “don’t be choosy” or “colonial mentality” —  is not only an insult but unfair.

Being pro-China at the expense of your compatriot is not only colonial but also treacherous, don’t you think, Secretary Roque?

As Cicero said and I quote, “A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within. An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and carries his banner openly. But the traitor moves amongst those within the gate freely, his sly whispers rustling through all the alleys, heard in the very halls of government itself.”

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