Smarty-pants in the age of COVID-19

Edmund Tayao

Posted at Mar 15 2020 04:55 AM

It is not the first time we’ll be facing a major crisis.  This latest, however, is showing to be a lot more serious than any of all the previous crises we faced.  Still, with what has become fully acrimonious politics that we have, as if on cue, the opposition expressed its criticism, even ridicule of the President and his press conference calling for a "lockdown" of Metro Manila.

Of course, the President has his share of defenders.  What is clearly lacking is, at the least, an attempt to be objective and or constructive in the way the government has been responding and handling the crisis.  If we will be objective, we have enough similar crises encountered before that we can very well compare how the President and the government then handled various crises during their time.  We also have so many crises, unfortunately, under this President’s term, and we know how these have been handled. It has its share of successes and failures.  As for the latter, believe me, the past President had so much more.  And I am being objective.

It is precisely the handling of past crises that the past President and his cohorts have been weighed and found wanting most by the electorate.  Remember the Luneta Hostage crisis?  How about the Yolanda super typhoon and the rehabilitation after? And who can forget the Mamasapano Massacre?  The result of course is a resounding rejection in the past 2 elections.  I have been quite preoccupied lately that I failed to write for more than a week, and I am supposed to write about this crisis’ implications on politics and governance.  But I just couldn't help but react to the asinine comments from those who simply don’t like the President as a person.

I have to ask in the first place, why is it that all these negative comments come from celebrities?  Not that I think they don’t have the right to criticize, but in handling a crisis, I would rather hear from someone who actually knows how to handle crisis situations.

No doubt, to claim that former Manila Archbishop Antonio Tagle’s assignment to the Vatican was some kind of punishment is ludicrous and should be condemned.  To keep on bashing the President on practically anything and everything he says and does, on the other hand, is utterly irresponsible, even stupid.

We need more well-meaning people, those who are not only willing to cooperate, but also offer alternative solutions in handling the crisis.  That's why, more than celebrities who only consistently revile the President with every opportunity they have, we need experts to help the government do right.  If not the government, even only the communities they belong to, would make a lot of difference instead of just politicizing everything.

The one that stands to lose significantly in this crisis is Metro Manila.  It is the most dependent region in the whole country.  In the event of a prolonged lockdown, only those who control the supply of every necessity will survive.  And of course we know who these people are.  In other words, this crisis is going to reveal the weaknesses of government.  Not just this government, that is the current set of officials, but the very structure of government we have.  We have to be asking ourselves now if we are prepared to handle and survive a crisis like this, especially if it is prolonged.

We should have already learned a thing or two on what we have seen recently in most groceries and stores; people panicking and buying what they thought would be essentials in keeping themselves safe.  Face masks have become sought after, as if they're some designer shoes or clothes that we now know the different types, preferring one from the other.  Rubbing alcohol has become expensive and scarce too, even though experts have been said that washing hands is the surest way to keep oneself free from being infected.

There has to be a way to manage the crisis on the ground.  If there is anything that was clear from what the President said, it is that in the end, survival, the end of this crisis, depends not only on government, but also more with the people, with the different communities.  Not much can even be done by the barangay, especially in the metropolis where what is nearer to the household is the village or condominium or building associations.  Ultimately,  so much depends on the households.

Information is therefore the fundamental tool, and enforcement is most effective only through cooperation and voluntarism.  Smart alecks don’t help.  They are stupid and certainly look like fools but they could have been useful in informing the people with what can be done.  These people think that because they are popular, they already know everything and therefore should say just about anything.  That may be right; popularity, in the first place, comes with it influence.

But people are not dumb; they were never dumb.  Perhaps, the difference between people then and now is that people are more informed now.  So what do you think happens when you proclaim that people who voted for the President are dumb?  Does it make you smart for making such a declaration?  I have to ask, as it seems it only shows how desperate critics have become just to discredit and make the President unpopular.  As a celebrity, don’t you think it makes you unpopular for hitting on a popular President on every turn?  Or perhaps you’re already unpopular or a has- been that you thought it could make you popular again?

Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.