BRUTALLY FRANK: Philippines, the epicenter of incompetent Duterte appointees

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By Francis Baraan IV

The Philippines has been under some form of COVID19 Lockdown since March 20, 2020. Initially, the entire country was placed under a 2-month Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ), wherein movement and travel were strictly regulated and limited in order to contain & curb the rise of CoronaVirus cases.

It was–no argument there–a necessary, internationally accepted public health response to a global pandemic caused by a novel virus that swiftly multiplies and infects hundreds of thousands of people within just a few short months. But almost five months later since ECQ, we are still nowhere anywhere near declaring our country COVID-free.

After giving Duterte emergency powers and handing him over P200B of emergency funds, and after borrowing $500M from the World Bank, which was meant for COVID19 operations, the Philippines has just been reported to have the highest number of COVID19 cases in Southeast Asia—now surpassing Indonesia.

Well, no surprise there.

We have Duterte as the sitting President; Francisco Q. Duque III as Health Secretary; Harry Roque as Presidential Spokesperson; and the likes of Mocha Uson, Banat By, Thinking Pinoy, Mark Lopez, and Sass Sasot as an alternative source of news for a gullible public; and most shocking and worse of all, we have Vince Dizon, an economist, as Testing Czar.

No wonder, the Philippines has now surpassed the 100,000-mark. And no wonder, we are still seeing a huge spike in cases almost five months later—with barely a sliver of light at the end of this dark, cavernous tunnel.

And no, it is not because Filipinos are pasaway—but because this Administration does not seem to care that much about our “buhay.”

Because if they truly care about public health safety and the preservation of each and every Filipino life, they would have actually banned travel from China during the start of the outbreak in Wuhan City. I mean, even a 2nd Grader knows that mitigation and prevention are always better than cure.

And instead of prioritizing the shutdown of ABS-CBN today, when we actually need more mainstream news networks disseminating—in real-time—life-saving, timely, COVID19-related updates and news, they should have put their personal vendetta, or their selfish interests, aside for the greater good. Instead of constantly gaslighting the people by calling them undisciplined, incorrigible, or irresponsible, they should have made sure that every poor household would each receive the P5,000-P8,000 financial support (Social Amelioration Program) from the Administration, so nobody would go out to look for food for their families. Instead of hiring a political consultant and economic adviser as Secretary of “Mass Testing” for a portion of the population, they should have appointed ANY qualified epidemiological clinician, whose ACTUAL EXPERTISE is related to VIRUSES and ENDEMICS.

And instead of confusing the public by renaming the term “mass testing” into “extended targeted testing (because the term mass testing supposedly–according to Harry Roque—makes many people to expect that almost the Administration would conduct COVID19 tests on almost the entire Philippine population), they should have just used those precious time pussyfooting and spouting nonsense ACTUALLY setting up more accredited lab testing sites, rounding up symptomatic people and PUMs/PUIs, and getting them ACTUALLY TESTED. Instead of appointing an economist to head the Testing of a good fraction of the Philippine population, they should have actually appointed a REAL EPIDEMIOLOGIST from the Bureau of Epidemiology in the Department of Health, or a Professor of Epidemiology from a reputable university.

As of this writing, there are now 119, 460 confirmed COVID19 cases, and 2,150 deaths, here in the Philippines. The sad thing is, I cannot even say I’m shocked. Because when you have a bunch of NON-EXPERTS running the show when the situation calls for TRUE BLUE EXPERTISE, this is what happens.

A few days ago, Secretary Vince Dizon actually said that the reason why there are now more confirmed cases of COVID19, is because the Philippines has ramped up mass testing. He says we have now been testing up to 50,000 people a day.

While it is commendable that we have finally begun conducting many tests per day—Dizon’s logic—well, not that much. The thing is, the most probable reason why there are now more confirmed cases of COVID19 cases, is because the Administration’s diversionary tactics and weapons of MASS DISTRACTION have caused so much delays and setbacks in mitigating the spread of the pandemic.

Instead of minimizing, fighting, and decimating the virus, they have been too busy—and still busy—reacting to the criticisms of activists, journalists, critics, key Opposition leaders, and ABS-CBN celebrities. I mean, the Administration seems to be more concerned about saving face rather than—you know–ACTUALLY SAVING LIVES.

AND IT WOULD RATHER APPOINT AN ECONOMIST, WHO HAS NO BACKGROUND, NO MEDICAL KNOWLEDGE, AND NO QUALIFICATION TO HANDLE A VERY IMPORTANT JOB MEANT SOLELY FOR REAL EPIDEMIOLOGISTS.

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