The President’s Solomonic decision

Published May 2, 2021, 12:08 AM

by Dr. Jun Ynares


Dr. Jun Ynares
Dr. Jun Ynares

This past week, President Duterte announced an all-important decision to extend the Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ) status for the National Capital Region (NCR) and a number of surrounding provinces and cities.

The extension, according to the President, will last until the 14th of this month.

In the wake of the announcement, the President apologized to the people in the areas affected by the extension. The apology was for what the President said would be the inconvenience that the extension of the MECQ status would bring to them.

By apologizing, the President showed a fine example of servant leadership.

He also displayed what older generations would call “Solomonic wisdom.”

This kind of wisdom is associated with King Solomon, an Old Testament personality to whom the word “wise” has been associated by generations for the past thousand years. It must have come about as a result of that story in the Bible where King Solomon had to resolve a dispute over an infant between two women both claiming to be the baby’s mother.

Baffled at first by the conflicting claims, King Solomon, in a remarkable display of wisdom, handed down a decision which resulted in the revelation of who the infant’s real mother was.

“Solomonic wisdom” is a rare commodity and is crucial when difficult decisions need to be made – particularly those that directly affect people’s lives and livelihood in a major way.

We understand the bases for the decision to extend the MECQ.

The NCR-plus has made gains in the bid to arrest the surge in new COVID-19 infection cases.

We need to protect the gains and to lower the rate of new infections further.

During the surge, our healthcare system came dangerously close to collapsing. Our hospitals were full, our doctors overloaded.

The stricter quarantine status imposed on the NCR-plus areas proved effective. Data showed that the sacrifices made by the residents and the enterprises in those areas had borne fruit.

Yes, it was a good move on the part of the national leadership to have listened to the recommendation to put those areas under MECQ for a limited period of time and to extend it for another two weeks this month.

No doubt, the decision to put these areas under MECQ and to extend the status until May 14 will exact a toll both on people and business.

For another two weeks, people’s movement and mobility will be limited. Many will continue to be prohibited from leaving their homes. Socializing face-to-face and large social gatherings are still a no-no. Most of our social interaction will continue to be online.

Many business establishments will remain closed. Those allowed to operate will do so on a limited number of hours. Restaurants are allowed to host al fresco and in-door dining on a reduced capacity. Those not willing to dine in open air will have to make do with take-out and delivery.

A number of people may remain jobless. Businesses that are able to continue operating will do so with minimum profit, at break-even, or even at a loss.

The economic impact will be painful, as it had already been.

That’s what makes the President’s decision to extend the MECQ in the NCR-plus area for another two weeks “Solomonic.”

It was a choice between preserving, protecting Life and people’s ability to engage in and prosper their means of livelihood.

Sometimes, “Solomonic” decisions could be unpopular. Understandable. In making these difficult decisions, there will always be interests that will not be served or which may even be curtailed.

It is understandable that the extension of the MECQ status would cause disappointment.

Many had expected that the restrictions would ease up beginning this month.

Now, we have to wait for two more weeks. Of course, it is not a certainty that current restrictions would be lifted on May 15. We suggest that we temper our expectations so as not to suffer from greater disappointment later.

There are two things we must do now.

First is to cooperate and collaborate with government, both at the national and local levels.

This means complying with the safety protocols the best we can. This means getting the vaccine without hesitation and on schedule when our turn comes. It means staying at home when there is no need for us to be outdoors.

The other thing we must do is to learn emotional endurance. In other words, we must learn to combine patience with resiliency.

We have endured the hardship of living at a time of a major pandemic for the past one year.

We must tell ourselves that two more weeks of limited mobility, movement and engaging in productive enterprise is nothing compared to what we have already gone through.

We may not be ecstatic over the decision to extend the MECQ. But we are happy to still be alive to comply with the restrictions that the MECQ brings about.

*For feedback, please email it to [email protected] or send it to Block 6 Lot 10 Sta. Barbara 1 cor. Bradley St., Mission Hills Subd., Brgy. San Roque, Antipolo City, Rizal.