THE VIEW FROM RIZAL
There has been a string of some positive developments lately, giving us a breather from the steady stream of disappointing news in the past few months.
First is the good news that the long-delayed opening of the additional stations comprising the Light Rail Transit Line 2 (LRT 2) Extension project is to happen soon: on the 23rd of this month to be exact, according to the Department of Transportation.
In January this year, the transportation department announced that the two additional stations in Marikina and Antipolo were to open last April 27. The original date was moved to June 23 – 17 days from today – due to the pandemic. Foreign rail experts who were supposed to be involved in the last stages of the extension project were reportedly unable to come to the country due to travel restrictions.
As it has been said many times in the past, the opening of the two stations will reduce travel time from Masinag in Antipolo to Legarda in Manila to just 40 minutes from the current travel time of close to two hours.
We had welcomed this development since the time the extension project was announced in 2012 following the approval of the project by the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) Board. We had anticipated the opening of the two additional stations by 2019, but a fire which occurred at Santolan Station damaged the systems uninterruptible power supply and causing major delays.
We were also elated by reports emanating from our embassy in Washington that the country is set to receive more vaccine supplies from the United States. Our country’s envoy to that country, Ambassador Babe Romualdez, announced a few days ago that additional supply of vaccines coming from the US and passing through the World Health Organization’s (WHO) COVAX facility might arrive in the country as early as this coming week.
According to our envoy to the US, part of what we might expect to arrive in the country will come from the 80 million-plus doses of US-made vaccines that Uncle Sam is sharing with the rest of the world.
He also mentioned the expected arrival of an initial batch of 300,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine in June 21, 15 days from today.
He added that the country has already signed a “term sheet” for the purchase of about 40 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine. Ambassador Romualdez did not mention when the 40 million doses – which the country is apparently buying at a “special price” – will arrive in the Philippines.
Every bit of news about the arrival of more vaccine supplies boosts our morale. We are aware that the more vaccine supplies come, the greater the chance that more doses of vaccines would make their way to communities outside of Metro Manila.
As we mentioned in our previous columns, many local government units are reeling under the pressure coming from their constituents who are clamoring to be vaccinated.
We underscored that as far as these communities outside of Metro Manila are concerned, the real problem is vaccine supply and not the so-called “vaccine hesitancy”. Local officials in these communities have to deal with angry constituents whose patience are wearing off rather than with the alleged hesitation on their part to have the vaccine jabbed into their arms.
The news that vaccines may be coming from the US in the next few days was followed by news that President Joe Biden had written President Duterte “to affirm the US’ strong ties with the Philippines”.
The US President also reportedly expressed his desire to meet with our President face-to-face in the near future.
This is welcome news, particularly because it is the chief executive of the US which reached out to our President. We hope this would lead to a more amiable relationship between the White House and Malacañang, and to the forging of a more equitable set of bilateral and mutual defense agreements.
We also hope this would result in more doses of US-made vaccines to find their way to the country and buoy the hope of communities outside of the heavily-favored National Capital Region.
The spate of good news in the past few days, however, was marred by one sad news.
The Representative of Antipolo’s Second District in Congress, Dr. Resurrection Acop, succumbed to complications from COVID 19 and passed away last May 28.
She was the wife of retired Philippine National Police general and former Congressman Romeo Acop.
Dr. Cion was much beloved by her constituents who had been the beneficiaries of her commitment to her mission, both as a medical practitioner and as a public servant.
She shall be missed.
Her passing away also serves as a reminder to all of us that a cruel virus is still in our midst and continues to take a deadly toll. We must continue to exercise maximum prudence and caution.
The pandemic is far from over and the virus will continue to pose one of the most serious threats to our families.
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