Espinoza: Enforce to the letter

Elias L. Espinoza

I don’t see the urgency for Health Sec. Francisco Duque, who is on self-quarantine, to speak out in defense of the VIPs, who were the subject of netizens’ harsh criticisms for getting the Covid tests first when there are persons under investigation (PUI) and persons under monitoring (PUM) that need them badly and, especially the health personnel who are in the frontline in this deadly battle.

While Secretary Duque said that there are no VIPs when it comes to Covid19 testing, but he admitted in an interview by CNN that there were direct requests to the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) by VIPs. He, however, said he has no details about, but he admitted that it provided “courtesy” to officials involved in national security and public health.

Sen. Francis Tolentino, who later on removed his post on FB regarding his photo being tested for Covid19 and declaring that he was negative of the virus, received the brunt of the netizen’s ire because the testing kits are scarce and the PUM or PUI seriously need them.

The netizens’ criticisms were not misplaced neither ill-time. The VIPs’ post on FB for getting first the test for Covid19 is distasteful in this time of need. But the VIPs can’t also be faulted for having the Covid19 test because just like us, they’re also scared of the virus. But, they should have been more circumspect.

The issue became controversial when it was reported that Dr. Celia Carlos, head of RITM, was replaced allegedly for refusing to speed up the testing process for the VIPs especially the government officials. Duque, however, clarified that the order was an error.


Most Filipinos are simply stubborn hence the need for the government to strictly enforce the laws, and health rules and regulations to prevent the spread of Covid19. The strict enforcement of the community quarantine should however be coupled with material and financial aid from the government to those in need.

With the way some Filipinos are complying with the health directives, there is indeed a need for Congress to give that extra authority to President Duterte not only to disburse billions of funds to provide financial assistance to the needy, but also to enforce the laws, and health rules and regulations to the letter.

World health experts say that one of the ways to prevent the spread of this deadly virus is to stay at home and practice the sanitary measures and observe social distancing. But these measures are better breached than complied with.

My support for the extra authority for the president would be unpopular to those who do not even like a total lockdown. And, what if President Duterte would enforce a martial rule? Who doesn’t love democracy and freedom? But in these uncertain times, our nation needs the iron fist to strictly enforce the laws, and health rules and regulations.

Unlike the war against insurgency, but in this battle the enemy, Covid19, even if named but it’s faceless. The health tips tell us where this virus could probably be found and infect us. But it’s uncertain when it would hit us. So, the better if not best choice is for us to stay at home to avoid the contagion unless it’s necessary to go out.

That President Duterte would abuse the extra power that Congress granted him is a mere speculation. Let’s not forget that under the present Constitution Congress still has the authority over the executive. And, vigilant as we are, we should not let the executive go beyond the powers vested by the Constitution.