Light at the end of the dark and virulent COVID-19 tunnel

Published February 28, 2021, 12:53 AM

by Former House Speaker Jose C. De Venecia Jr.


Jose de Venecia Jr.
Former Speaker of the House

As of this writing, 600,000 doses of Sinovac’s COVID-19 vaccines donated by China are scheduled to arrive in Manila today, as announced by Malacañang a few days ago.

With the availability of the vaccines, our government can already kick off the immunization program, which is crucial for the well-being of our countrymen and our country’s economic recovery.

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier thumbed down the recommendation of his administration’s economic managers and some of the country’s business leaders to place the entire Philippines under the Modified General Community Quarantine (MGCQ), the least restrictive of the four quarantine classifications implemented by the government to curtail the spread of COVID-19.

The government’s economic managers explained that it is about time our country address the mounting problem of unemployment and bring the economy back to the path of growth. The President, however, prefers to have a vaccine rollout first before shifting the whole country to the most lenient quarantine status.

Indeed, the government has been on a tightrope, striking a balance between the economy, on one side, and the people’s health and well-being, on the other side.

This pandemic has shattered our hard-earned economic gains, resulting in economic meltdown of 9.5 percent last year, put some ten million of our fellow Filipinos out of livelihoods, and, most painful of all, claimed the lives of more than 12,000 of our countrymen, including our family members, relatives, friends, and colleagues.

We had previously pointed out that the availability of the vaccines in our country and the subsequent inoculation nationwide would be the light at the end of the dark and virulent  COVID-19 tunnel that we have been going through since March last year.

Sadly, the delay in the arrival of the vaccines has heightened our people’s fears and suspicions surrounding the injections. Malacañang said President Duterte himself expressed displeasure over the delay.

In the meantime, we join calls for the Health Department to assuage our countrymen’s anxiety and reduce their feeling of uncertainty by intensifying its information dissemination on the safety and efficacy of the vaccines and the necessity of immunization. The barangay health officers may conduct a house-to-house information drive in their respective areas for this purpose.

We also appeal to some people who may be spreading misinformation to stop causing deep apprehension and sowing confusion among our countrymen.

Results of the nationwide survey conducted by OCTA Research show that 46 percent of our fellow Filipinos do not want to be vaccinated, while 35 percent are undecided. Only 19 percent said they want to be inoculated.

We need to vaccinate as many Filipinos as soon as possible in view of the reported new variant which purportedly is more contagious. We need solidarity and cooperation if we are to win the battle against this invisible and virulent enemy. Inoculation is necessary so we can bring normalcy back to our daily lives.

On a related note, we commend the visionary business leader and philanthropist Ramon S. Ang for his plan to vaccinate the 70,000 employees of San Miguel Corporation against COVID-19 for free, indeed another remarkable contribution in keeping our countrymen safe and healthy and in boosting our country’s economic recovery.

Don Ramon, as we fondly call him, chairman/president/COO of San Miguel Corporation, one of Asia’s largest conglomerates, has, among many other charitable works, donated more than P1 billion worth of food products, alcohol, fuel, protective gear, and many other items in response to the country’s battle against the coronavirus pandemic.

Truly, Ramon S. Ang is one of the great Filipinos of our time.