I was asked by a friend to share my thoughts on this Covid 19 pandemic as a citizen, and I just couldn’t say no.
We live in a country, quite sadly, where the people have been brought up and taught to fear anything that is powerful enough to hurt us.
This includes: the government, the police, the military, persons in authority, foreigners (even in our own country). These institutions and persons are actually not supposed to be feared, on the contrary most of them are placed there to protect and to serve the people.
The reality however, is just the opposite. That fear is rooted from a long history of abuse and exploitation.
This norm has been in place since the Spanish rule and it would take a massive amount of re-education and unlearning to change it.
We have done so little to shed the remnants of the repeated trauma of colonial rule and dictatorship. We are dismissive because nothing that has happened in the past has actually made a tangible difference in the lives of the common person.
We have been trained to follow the rules and not question them. We complain about so many things but only quietly and in the safety of our homes, worse, many condemn those who voice out their discontent and grievances only to benefit from the changes those complaints bring about.
Now there is a virus.
This pandemic has actually amplified and magnified all these realities in the Filipino society and culture. We ignore the dangers of contamination and flock at city hall for the chance to receive money from the Social Amelioration Program.
We rant on social media because a local government official is slow and selective in delivering the canned goods and NFA rice. We wait and wait for concrete plans and steps the government may have to ease the health and economic impact of this crisis, but to no avail.
The Filipino has a very high threshold for pain.
The government has used threats and intimidation to ensure that the people suffer in silence.
We continue to endure without a clear view of what the future brings. This is what I call “slave mentality” that is still deeply ingrained in the psyche of our people.
Let us not forget that we are in this predicament because this administration chose to make its foreign master happy instead of prioritizing the safety of its people. The propaganda machinery keeps the people ill-informed and confused with smokescreens and diversions until they lose sight of the real issue.
The law applies to everyone except those who are allies. There is no transparency on how the funds from different sources are being spent and we continue to borrow from abroad to combat this pandemic.
Congress has extended the emergency powers granted to the president but if you listen to the president and watch what they are doing you will notice a total lack of urgency in dealing with this emergency.
The President has surrounded himself with people who don’t think but only agree to everything he says.
At least there are still a number of local government officials who are competent and who genuinely cares for their constituents. There are also private individuals and entities who contribute enormously to alleviate the burden. We may never fully appreciate the importance of empowering the citizenry but at least we must never put too much power in the hands of one person. Power unchecked is worse than any pandemic.
Filipinos are used to having their rights violated, hell they don’t even care much about their rights. Although I think it is still worth noting that the inadequacy in the way our government has handled this crisis has most severly affected the economic rights of the people.
Their right to a decent livelihood. Their right to a stable source of income should be the priority. Many of us have given up our right to mobility. We have stayed at home but eventually one has to go out and look for his necessities. Government aide will not last for much longer nor was it ever enough.
The lack of sufficient medical equipment, protective gear, testing kits have kept us in fear and this administration is exploiting that to grab more power. Authoritarian regimes have a way of using a crisis to perpetuate themselves and tighten their grip on power.
A true leader gives his people love not fear, hope not despair.