I’ll have to confess that i’m not really one to constantly monitor the news, and I don’t tend to voice out my political opinions until recently. No one ever expected to witness a history textbook content type of disaster to actually happen in real life, especially the Philippine government.
What enrages me even more is the fact that there are still supporters of the manner of mishandling the national crisis, a group of people who blindly trusts the Duterte administration, as well as the apathetic upper class who refuses to believe that this issue doesn’t affect them all just because they don’t witness the repercussions directly.
These types of people are so out of touch with the community’s current state, choosing to live in ignorance inside a bubble of privilege that they can’t seem to get away from. If you’re one of these people or that you simply want to know what the Corona Virus pandemic is like in the Philippines, I hope you let me enlighten you.
No Work = No Pay
Not everyone has the luxury to work from home. What about the street vendors? contractual workers? jeepney drivers? A large portion of the working class relies on their day to day salary to get by. They need to work so that they can put food on the table for their families. One can’t simply blame them for going outside.
They don’t want to work but they have to. Having a choice of risk or safety is a luxury that’s only available for the rich. The only choice these people have in this pandemic is choosing between risking their health or dying from starvation.
Lack of Testing Kits and Medical Supplies
Earlier this year, billions of pesos have been cut from the budget of the Department of Health. And when the virus came to the country, It was reported that there are only 2,000 testing kits available out of the rising cases of infected patients.
A number of these testing kits were used for government officials and their families who don’t have any travel history and symptoms, yet symptomatic patients and exposed health workers are left to wait for more testing kits and other medical supplies such as masks, even going as far as for public hospitals to ask monetary and mask donations from the community when it should be provided by the government in the first place.
The reality is that when less fortunate people are infected by the virus, they will be forced to either wait forever to be treated or wait for their looming death, whichever comes first. Meanwhile, a powerful and well connected family will always be front in line.
For some reason, the President, thought that it was a good idea to strengthen military solutions instead of medical solutions in a time of pandemic. Because of the lockdown that he implemented, soldiers were appointed to various checkpoints to check the temperature of each individual going inside Manila for work, carrying guns instead of proper medical gear.
This not only causes public intimidation but it also puts working citizens and military personnel at risk of infection which does not in any way mitigate the situation.
Closing of Establishments and Public Transportation
Things has gotten even more difficult because of the sudden prevention of public transportation. To earn a living amidst the pandemic, people were seen walking for hours coming from their distant homes in order to hustle. Health workers and patients themselves do not know how to go to the hospitals and few desperate jeepney drivers who continued to provide transportation doubled their fees just to earn. This fueled panic buying among the masses failing to implement social distancing yet again.
If there is no transportation, how are people going to work? If people are not going to work, how are they going to earn money? If there’s no money, where are they going to get food? If health workers can’t go to hospitals who will heal the people?
Everything goes back to money. People need money and those who don’t have it will result to desperate acts to survive and no one has the right to blame someone for “not staying home” all because they want to live.
Vague Speeches and False Information
The people got even more paranoid when the virus started to spread and things started to get way out of proportion when trolls created fake news that was immediately eaten up by Viber chat titas and titos, and trickled down to family group chats. Even the President’s Spokesperson is a victim of this, claiming that bananas help in curing the corona virus to the press despite having no medical basis.
The citizens waited for a course of action from the government yet when the President was proclaimed to adress the crisis, he faced the press an hour or so late and rambled on and on about topics unrelated to the crisis, insisted the people to simply follow the social distancing instruction completely avoiding the issue of labor and poverty. No explanation regarding medical solutions or whatsoever. Spokesperson Panelo even said that “no one will die from a month of hunger”
People’s lives rely on effective relief solutions and actions. How will the government do that when our nation’s leaders themselves undermine the situation and fail to realize the needs of the masses? Just because you can change your news channels to Netflix from your smart TVs, does not mean that you should stay ignorant and apathetic about the pains of your fellowmen.
It’s no question that the pandemic has made the class divide apparent more than it has ever been. The other half is saying enough with the criticism towards the government and simply follow through instead. But what I want to say about this is, it is our duty and our right to criticize the government when we deem fit, especially when these public servants are providing sub par service that massively impacts the lives of the mid and lower class.
We should be outraged! We should demand accountability from our leaders who fail to do their duty. After all, this is what all of our taxes are for. You may be doing well and having enough for your own but still, wouldn’t you want for your taxes be put to good use? If you remain indifferent to the situation, it goes to show that you’re no different from these selfish politicians.
What I have observed among the people amidst the pandemic is the lack of compassion. Learn to empathize with the pains of your fellowmen. Every person who is suffering at this moment is someone’s child, someone’s parent, and someone’s dear friend. We are all a child of God, we are all one nation. Don’t turn a blind eye and be a voice for the people in need. Use your privilege for a good cause and be grateful for what you have.
At the end of the day, what will matter is not our riches but the love, kindness and compassion that we shared with others.
To end this on a good note, I want to give thanks and recognition to our front liners, the health workers, cashier and supermarket attendants, security guards, servers in the food industry, bank employees, and the police and military, for risking their lives just to provide us honorable service. I am amazed by all of you and I will keep praying for your safety.
Hi Reader! I started writing this a few days ago but I was suddenly contacted by a company that I applied for to do a writing exam so I was only able to publish this now. But anyway, it is a blessing and a privilege to have a home that will keep me safe from what is happening and I am grateful that you took the time to read this, if ever you’ve reached this point of this article. Credits to @ceegreeen14 who is the owner of the featured image.
How is quarantine doing for you? What’s it like in your country? I hope all of you are safe in your homes.