TURNING POINT: Doing Heroic in This Pandemic

NAAWAN, Misamis Oriental (MindaNews / 14 June) — President Duterte urged Flipinos on Freedom Day, June 12, to emulate the nation’s heroes to free the country from COVID-19.

Do tell us how, Mr. President. Is it for one to die of the virus so as to deny it of another host and thereby stop further transmission?

You want the people who have been called names, “mga gahig ulo,” “tigas ulo,” “mga pasaway,” disobedient and lawbreakers to become heroes?

It’s a long shot but not really impossible; the President need only to stop joking and truly lead the country with heroic fervor, especially in navigating these trying times. The nation, no doubt, will follow him.

Unfortunately, the President has not shown any heroism of sort in leading the Filipino people.

There was this opportunity but he squandered it badly when he reneged on his pledge to plant the Philippine flag in the Spratly Island in the West Philippine Sea, saying it was but a joke, and those who believed it were stupid.

And in this pandemic, he acts no hero but as the exemplar of “pasaway” and of a lawbreaker.

He should have set the example of obeying the laws and health protocols to beat the pandemic. Instead, he does the other way around. He has been acting as a villain, say, in tolerating his security forces in the smuggling of anti- COVID-19 vaccine to advance their vaccination. He himself got the jab illegally using the same smuggled vaccine.

Is he not aware that his antics gravely undermine the government’s effort to defeat the pandemic? What he did, needless to say, adds fuel to the hesitancy of many Filipinos, among them senior citizens in particular, to get vaccinated not only because of the scary conspiracy theories surrounding COVID-19 vaccines but, apparently, also because of such an untrustworthy presidential behavior.

You can’t blame anyone to become suspicious of the emergency use authorization or EUA-acquired vaccines because not one in the legal inventory was used by the President of the land himself, who is a senior citizen.

Considered in pandemic high risk, senior citizens are placed second in the priority for inoculation. Yet, only 16% of the 9.4 million senior citizen population responded to the call. Of the 1.5 million who received the first dose, only 25% or 369,387 returned for the booster dose. Such that after three months of vaccine rollout, only four percent of the 9.4 million senior citizens across the country had been completely jabbed.

This turn of event is a blot to the country’s vaccination and health program. It is quite alarming, considering that seniors reportedly constitute a great number of those hospitalized and who died of COVID-19.

We join in hoping that the food supply incentive will cure the malignant distrust in vaccination and the authorities.

We need to put our acts together rightly to liberate the country from the fear and devastation of the pandemic.

(MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. William R. Adan, Ph.D., is a retired professor and former chancellor of Mindanao State University at Naawan, Misamis Oriental, Philippines.)