Editorial: Missed opportunities

·2 min read

It’s beginning to look as if the Duterte administration is mired in a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situation in its war against the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.

Granted, it has fallen flat on its face on several occasions since the health crisis started more than a year ago, but it was to be expected since there was no template or guideline on how to go about beating Sars-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19.

At least, there was none back then.

At any rate, the government and the people have managed to pick themselves up every time to trudge to face the enemy, albeit covered in countless battle scars.

According to the Philippine News Agency, the country’s economy contracted 9.5 percent in 2020, while its gross domestic product shrank 8.3 percent in the fourth quarter of last year.

Unemployment rate has climbed from around three to five percent before the disaster struck to 8.7 percent posted by the National Economic and Development Authority in October.

It has been an uphill struggle, but this time the government is not fighting blindly.

Acting Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua said, “There is a need to balance to gradually open the economy, avoid prolonged quarantine, focus on localized quarantines and implement the minimum health standards.”

To achieve these goals, the government needs everybody’s help.

With the arrival of Covid-19 vaccines from China and the Covax Facility and with the implementation of the vaccination program for first-priority recipients like health workers in the public and private sectors, the government is finally on a path to winning this war. That is, until it encountered yet another stumbling block.

According to the Department of Health 7, only 51.4 percent of medical frontliners in Central Visayas have been inoculated against Covid-19.

Finally, the Philippines has offered a ticket out of this problem and just a little more than half of the target recipients have availed themselves of it.

Distrust of the vaccine, bias against its country of origin, whatever reasons the public has for turning down the chance to beat the enemy are noted. The government has its hands tied since it cannot compel the people to get vaccinated.

So how can the country expect to emerge victorious in this war against Covid-19 if the very people it is struggling to protect undermine its efforts?

At least the government can say that it has done its best under the circumstances. As for the people, the opportunity to move on is theirs for the taking.