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What IF?

"It is not surprising that many are now angry at how this pandemic is severely mishandled."

 

As of 15 April, according to the Department of Health (DOH), the number of COVID-19 cases in the country has risen to 904,285 with 15,594 deaths. Just for this day, 11,429 new cases were added.

However, many think that the actual numbers are much higher as we continue to hear of entire families contracting the disease but remaining at home because our health facilities are full to the brim? We also hear of people dying without being seen by doctors. Are these cases included in the official DOH data? Most probably, they are not. Any which way one looks at the situation, this pandemic continues to wreak havoc on the country. Filipinos are suffering in more ways than one.

Even President Rodrigo Duterte said so in his last public appearance. He said that this pandemic will take long to address and that many more will die. According to him, the only solution is the vaccine. In the same breath, Duterte remains in denial about the incompetence and serious lack of the sense of urgency of the DOH and the Inter Agency Task Force (IATF) in dealing with this pandemic. This presidential attitude and defeatist statement is quite disheartening.

With COVID-19 deaths happening and families going hungry all over Metro Manila and nearby provinces, it is not surprising that many are now angry at how this pandemic is severely mishandled. But what if the handling is intentional and part of a grand scheme in relation with the 2022 national elections?

This alleged scheme is making the rounds of social media: “Government is not confused or incompetent. It is just sticking to a logical plan. It does not want to solve the pandemic now because it is timing the peak of vaccination and the subsequent recovery of the economy by early next year, for purposes of impact on the 2022 elections.

By the third quarter of 2021, vaccine prices will start to dive. By the fourth quarter, the government will step up vaccinations and probably release funds for relief, stimulus, subsidies, etc. in time for Christmas in December 2021. Mobility and business will pick up fast through January to March 2022. 

The start of the Presidential campaign is March 2022. Government will start distributing cash by then (from the budget it is hoarding) towards a climax of happiness and excitement by election day in May 2022.

The biggest problem for the government is how to dribble the ball from now up to December while hoarding its money. It will have to entertain, divert and distract the public for seven months. This is what is happening. 

Even if the entire country gets sick, only 5 percent will be serious and less than 1 percent will die. Filipinos can easily forget that as long as they have a long fiesta from Christmas to May next year.”

I ignored this message the first time I received it. However, like many, I am puzzled not only by the government’s seeming incapability to come up with pro-active solutions, but also at the events that have been happening outside of the pandemic.

At some point, Duterte said that the government had no more funds to give as assistance to poor families. However, the Bayanihan 1 and 2 laws have earmarked funds for efforts to address the pandemic. Moreover, according to a March 2021 report of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, the country borrowed P2.74 trillion in 2020 to fight the health and socioeconomic crises brought by the COVID-19 pandemic. This amount that will eventually be paid by the people is no joke.

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez also said that for 2021, the national government has programmed to borrow P3.03 trillion from both domestic and multilateral lenders.

In terms of the anti-COVID-19 vaccine (which, Duterte said is our ONLY hope in defeating this pandemic), according to the March 23, 2021 Rappler report, government programmed P82.5 billion for COVID-19 vaccines for 2021 including P70 billion that will come from loans and additional revenues. The Philippines is poised to secure at least $1.2 billion (P58.5 billion) for vaccines broken down as follows: $500 million from the World Bank; $400 million from the Asian Development Bank; and $300 from the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.

Therefore, from these data, there is reason to believe that money may not be the problem.

Government has targeted 70 percent of Filipinos for vaccination this year. Initially, Duterte promised for vaccines to start arriving in December 2020. This did not happen. The numbers are dismal. The total doses delivered to the Philippines as of April 13, 2021 was 3,025,600 (Sinovac 2.5 million and AstraZeneca 525,600). The vaccine doses that have been administered as of the same date were 1,093,651 (first dose), and 162,065 (second dose). These numbers say that ONLY 162,065 Filipinos have so far been vaccinated. The vaccination roll out is very slow.

What if, there were more to the scenario that this administration is hoarding huge funds and purposely delaying actions to address the pandemic?

What if these periodic disappearances and subsequent reappearance of Duterte are part of a grand scheme to divert people’s attention? What if even the controversial dolomite, the spokesperson’s antics, and other events are also diversionary tactics meant to dissipate our energies?

What if all these are about their preparations to ensure victory come the 2022 elections?

I am putting this out only so people know that this may happen. However things turn out, we must remember the thousands who perished and their families and who are now grieving. The Filipino electorate must honor them and choose public servants who are worthy of the title.

@bethangsioco on Twitter Elizabeth Angsioco on Facebook

Topics: Department of Health , Inter Agency Task Force , COVID-19 , Metro Manila
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