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Pres. Rodrigo Duterte might be president but he is no leader, says doctor who explains why the COVID-19 response has been terrible

“We have a president, but no leader.”

Gideon Lasco, a doctor, anthropologist, and a columnist for the Philippine Daily Inquirer explained why COVID-19 is ‘still out of control’ in the country, which he attributes to the government’s ‘faulty paradigm.’

Lasco says the government is more concerned about imposing guidelines such as the use of face shields, carrying quarantine passes, and the setting up of checkpoints instead of improving contact tracing and mass testing.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III was highly criticized for failing to perform necessary contact tracing on the first three COVID-19 cases in the country, who were all Chinese nationals.

Lasco points out that ‘politics continues to dictate policy’ and not science. The rapid antibody tests are only there to make people feel better and optimistic even when its possible consequences have been made public, while the use of the motorcycle barrier, which no other nation implemented, proved to be useless and is no longer required for areas under a general community quarantine (GCQ).

The government is already on the verge of reopening the economy, as per presidential spokesman Harry Roque, but the movement of people is still limited. Lasco says it doesn’t make sense to reopen businesses when public transportation isn’t a hundred percent accessible.

Hospitals that only take in coronavirus patients also deprive non-COVID-19 patients of medical treatment.

The government’s plan just has too many holes.

Authorities don’t provide any definitive reasons for restrictions and guidelines. Plus punishment is the tool used for maintaining discipline, which hasn’t really helped.

Lasco thinks Filipinos would be more law-abiding had Duterte’s allies been ‘sanctioned’ for violating guidelines, such as NCR PNP police chief Debold Sinas when he threw a birthday party while violating safety protocols but wasn’t punished.

The VIP testing issue also got major backlash from the public. Duterte himself has resorted to blaming the Filipino people for the persistent COVID-19 problems in the country.

Lasco doesn’t see Duterte as a leader. The president’s late-night addresses have been a whole lot of nothing, and his strategy of just waiting for a vaccine will only increase the coronavirus mortality rate.

The government just failed in every major aspect in this pandemic says Lasco. Congress was too busy denying ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal and approving the controversial anti-terror bill, and politicians have recently blasted medical frontliners.

Lasco does acknowledge that there are those who are doing a good job, but the government’s strategy makes it impossible for their efforts to become a success.  Lasco also wants the public to keep challenging and questioning Duterte, the incompetent president who is ‘responsible for this disastrous response.’

Ronald Mendoza, dean of the Ateneo School of Government recently told ANC that blaming the public will do nothing.

“I agree with the vice president that we need a central database for all of the information, all of the data so that the different levels of government will have some access to the relevant information for a nuance response to the COVID-19,” he told Karen Davila in an interview.

“This is the kind of response we need so that we can begin to open up the economy again and live with this disease because that’s what the other countries are doing,” he added.

“Even Vietnam is doing better because it set up the systems, it built the trust of the citizens and it gave a strong signal of inclusion. Walang maiiwan, lahat ay poprotektahan ng estado dito sa disease na ‘to.

“Vietnam convinced their citizens to share information voluntarily with the state. The country also has a central app that “provides their state relevant information for a nuance understanding of the risk of COVID-19.

“Alam nila kung saan yung COVID-19, alam nila kung saan kumakalat.

“Hindi sila [citizens] bineblame ng kanilang estado for the spread of the disease. Their state provided all the support the citizens need so that they can also collaborate with the state and cooperate with the policies.”

Written by JO-EST B. TAN

0917 159 6675

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