Managing the crisis

Published August 17, 2020, 5:10 PM

by Hector Ronald Romero Villanueva


Hector RR Villanueva

“The greatest of evil and the worse of crimes is poverty.” – George Bernard Shaw

            The Duterte administration top officials have neither the expertise nor the experience nor the resources to combat effectively the coronavirus pandemic and its devastating fallouts.

However, with the cooperation of the private sector, private hospitals and frontliners, such as doctors, nurses, paramedics, police and Army, tireless dedication and individual sacrifices are being performed daily to save countless lives.

Under the leadership of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, financial assistance and best efforts are being pursued to alleviate hardship and economic dislocation.

First, the OFWs and BPOs were once the major sectors that kept the economy buoyant.

The booming population and labor export eased the unemployment pressure and brought in healthy forex remittances.

The total number of Filipino foreign workers and balikbayans were once estimated to number at around 4 million scattered all over the world.

As population growth rate was rising exponentially, them were the halcyon days of wines and roses that seem never to end-until the coronavirus pandemic outbreak.

As we have repeatedly written, ambivalent population policy and neglect by government will sooner or later become a problem as thousands of our Overseas Filipino Workers are repatriated, who will not only exacerbate and aggravate the unemployment problem but also face an uncertain future; many are also contaminated with the virus.

On the other hand, the archipelagic configuration of the country can be a blessing in disguise and an opportunity to isolate the spread of the coronavirus to the islands with strict and disciplined dispersal and management.

However, it takes authority and national discipline to neutralize the spread of the pandemic.

President Duterte is doing his best but cannot do it alone.

Second, it is evident that most coronavirus cases are concentrated and widespread in the Greater Manila area, Cebu, Laguna, Cavite, and Rizal primarily brought in by returning workers.

However, massive and total lockdowns on barangays or towns, or small cities are too severe without regard to the economic consequences.

Moreover, excessive fines, penalties and incarceration of quarantine violators have more impact on the poorer sector of society. Where do the cash collections go?

Even face shields and masks, unless given free, are equivalent to cheap cooked rice on the table of squatter families.

As Irish poet Oliver Goldsmith had observed, “Laws grind the poor, and rich men rule the law.” As COVID-19 mortality rate rises, the majority come from the poverty sector for lack of attention and humanitarian care.

You be the judge.