Skewed priorities

Published September 14, 2020, 4:29 PM

by Hector Ronald Romero Villanueva

Hector RR Villanueva


“The danger chiefly lies in acting well; no crime’s so great as daring to excel.” – Charles Churchill

There is nothing wrong with creating an artificial Boracay in front of Roxas Boulevard but to do so in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic and economic difficulties is insensitive and asinine when there are other urgent priorities.

The famous Waikiki Beach in Honolulu was originally imported sand.  So are the unutilized riverbanks along te River Seine in Paris.

When the underlying soil is volcanic, there is no white sand unless the shoreline is facing directly the ferocious southwest monsoon winds, or “Habagat” and its equivalent elsewhere.

Thus, skewed priorities are issues that either the people or authorities ignore, or look the other way, or procrastinate.

First, the unchecked and rapid rise of population should have been given serious attention by the authorities.

The state had recognized the need of a population policy but nobody listened.

Owing to the coronavirus pandemic, population pressure and unemployment, the problems are being compounded and complicated by thousands of returning Filipino overseas workers many of whom could be symptomatic of the coronavirus.

Now, we do not only have the discomfort of widespread lockdowns but also economic recession, household dislocation, unemployment, and hunger.

Second, another ponderous and laborious issue is the obsession and preoccupation with the South Chine Sea territorial claims which, to paraphrase, Winston Churchill, “it is better to jaw-jaw than to war war” which sage advice President Rodrigo Roa Duterte has taken to hear when dealing with China.

In other words, since diplomatic negotiations are continuing, the SCS issue can wait since the immediate problem of the COVID-19 is the priority.

Third, another skewed priority is the dizzying multiplication of restrictive regulations and protocols which are confusing to the ordinary public and business sector.

These harsh restrictions and requirements are further aggravated by innate “arrest mentality” of LGUs and police enforcers; the penchant for imposing fine and/or imprisonment and abuse of power by authorities of quarantine violators which tend to impinge more on the poor than on the educated and middle class families.

Indeed, the poor are not immune from the coronavirus. They just die quietly from lack of medical attention or they die of starvation.

As Oliver Goldsmith once remarked, “the laws grind the poor, and rich men rule the law.”

In other words, the IATF or the government should focus more on reviving the economy; provide temporary employment to the expanding unemployed; urge the commercial banks to liberalize and cooperate; require the senators and congressmen to reduce their salaries and perks, and focus on the urgent priorities, rather than on the tangential issues and non-vital projects.

You be the judge.