HEALTH Secretary Francisco Duque III described the coronavirus disease as a “blessing in disguise” and was promptly ridiculed. People expected more empathy from Duque because he is our top health official but his comments tended to show otherwise. The coronavirus is definitely not a blessing to the families of the 2,940 Filipinos who have so far died from the disease and for the many thousand others who lost their jobs because of the pandemic.
Duque’s remarks remind us of a similar boo-boo by another Cabinet official who famously exclaimed “Panalo na tayo” at the end of June because the number of Covid cases had not reached the 40,000 mark predicted by the University of the Philippines. It turned out that the UP estimate was right; 46,335 were already infected with the virus as of June 30 but because of the delay in the transmittal of reports, only 37,513 had been recorded.
But Roque was unfazed. “I don’t care about the critics,” he was quoted as saying. “I’ll keep doing it every month because people should be reminded that although UP forecasts are mathematical models, we can still control the situation.”
As of Aug. 21, the country has already logged 182,365 Covid-19 cases. To his credit, Roque has kept his mouth shut as to who was winning over whom.
In fairness to Duque, he explained why he thought the pandemic was a blessing in disguise. The disease “exposed the weakness of our health system,” he said, and served to speed up the implementation of a universal health care program. He saw something good arising from a misfortune.
Maybe, he should have used “silver lining” instead of “blessing in disguise” in describing his learnings from the pandemic. Indeed, there are a number of good things you can find amid the suffering and despair wrought by the pandemic. We have more time to spend with our families, to meditate on what really matters at the end and to draw ourselves closer to our God.
The horrendous traffic jams are gone with the replacement of the jeepneys by the buses (but do we have a plan for the displaced jeepney drivers?) and you can actually see Bohol from Busay — little pleasures to spice up our dreary routine.
Duque meant well, but next time, he has to be careful with his choice of words. These days, few people have the patience to Google the nuance of a word or expression.
Meanwhile, congratulations to the Regional Highway Patrol Unit 7 for bagging the most outstanding RHPU award in the country. RHPU7 is currently headed by Police Col. Geronimo Cabra.
In Cebu, the Highway Patrol has been regularly conducting joint checkpoint operations with other police units to enforce traffic laws, including the unauthorized use of sirens, overspeeding and overloading. Police Capt. Maria Alicia B. Valera is the Metro Cebu HPU head.
As former chairman of the RHPU7 Advisory Council, I am happy that the unit that was once plagued by controversy has slowly regained the trust of the Cebuanos.