"These are indeed the most difficult times of our collective lives."
We live in a troubled world, and these are indeed the most difficult times of our collective lives.
Government and the nation itself are fighting against all odds.
There is the coronavirus pandemic, which has overwhelmed our health care system, with nary an instant resolution to hope for.
We have been on a series of lockdowns for 13 months running, with different severities given confusing appellations, wary of the word “lockdown,” instead using “community quarantine” as in GCQ, ECQ or MECQ or whatever else. These lockdowns, the longest among the world’s equally afflicted nations, have wrought havoc on our economy and caused millions to lose their jobs and livelihood.
Not only that: Food inflation is still rising, particularly because of the ASF which a previous agriculture leadership failed to fend off. Oil, the chief barometer of our price indicia, is also acting up. Low incomes or no income, compounded by inflationary pressures, could lead to anomie. Scary.
Our vaccination timetable is also awry. Receiving donations from China and the COVAX facility, plus a million of government-purchased Sinovax, we rolled these out quickly, hoping to receive shipments in time for a continuous cycle of preventive shots that would reach herd immunity by end 2021 or mid-2022. That does not look possible now.
India, from which we were hoping to source as much as 20 million doses, has stopped exports of its manufactured vaccines because of a surge in infections, the latest tally breaching a hundred thousand daily cases. Ours meanwhile has been averaging some 10,000 cases daily for more than a week now. We have breached 800,000; by end-April, we may hit a million COVID cases.
When the hardworking but beleaguered vaccine czar announces “slight delays” in vaccine arrivals, we now tend to ask how “slight” is measured — in days or weeks?
Thanks largely to our local executives especially in the National Capital Region, initial hesitation, even fear of the vaccine no matter the provenance, seems to have been conquered. But what happens when long lines hoping for deliverance are turned away in the coming weeks because of these “slight” delays? One shudders at the thought.
As if conquering the odds against the virus is not problem enough, we have the heating West Philippine situation. The bully in the region has upped its ante, and we find ourselves delicately balancing our counter measures through strong words and little else.
We have sent diplomatic protests one after the other through the several years that our territorial integrity has been violated, and now about to issue a stronger demarche. But they seem to fall on deaf ears.
Obstinately, the region’s dominant power insists all of the China Sea is theirs, beyond ken of UNCLOS, beyond our exclusive economic zone, beyond reach of arbitral tribunals or world opinion.
Kudos to Defense Secretary Del Lorenzana for insisting on our territorial rights, and asking the bully to get out and stop taking him for a fool. And our foreign secretary who insists that donations of life-saving vaccines are not tit for tat for national honor.
We keep our peace for the simple reason that we do not believe might is right, besides being unprepared for hostile actions. But the other side obviously thinks that their might is right, and they have long prepared their might while nobody was looking.
Meanwhile in Taiwan, the people continue to mourn their dead after the train accident that killed 51, with dozens still recovering from severe injuries.
High government officials, from the president and the premier, have donated a month’s salary for a fund to help the families of the victims. Even without that, the public has donated some 2.1 million US dollars through Line Pay as of Monday.
Transportation Minister Lin Chia-lung has accepted the political responsibility for the tragedy. “I accept all the criticisms and will take full responsibility without hesitation,” the young former mayor of Taichung stated. He also said that he will resign his position as soon as the rescue work is completed.
Such high sense of self-respect and accountability.
On a nice note, Taiwan baseball player Wu Nien-ting hit his second homerun in Japan’s professional baseball league after making a speech before the game last Sunday, expressing his sorrow about the train accident.
“My home country Taiwan had a serious train accident yesterday. Now the country is facing a dismal situation. So it would be great if my performance today can bring some uplifting news to my country,” the 27-year old Wu said.
And then he hit a homerun.