“NEVER in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.” This was how the late Prime Minister Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill summarized the gratitude of the people of Great Britain to the members of the Royal Air Force (RAF) when they defeated the German Luftwaffe in the latter’s desire to conquer the Atlantic country during the Second World War.
Churchill was the wartime Prime Minister of Great Britain who rallied the British people to trample any attempt by the Hitler-led German military to invade England at the height of the war in the European theater from the year 1939 to 1944. The German Air Force was, during that time, considered the most superior in the world and believed was indestructible.
But with Churchill’s inspiration, the much smaller number in terms of planes and human resources RAF thwarted every attempt by the Luftwaffe to destroy London, the seat of the British government. Because of this extraordinary achievement, the Prime Minister voiced out in one short message the gratitude of the British people to the insignificant brave men who saved their country from destruction and humiliation.
Now the world is facing another war. No, it’s not a shooting war. But its impact and in terms of the number of people who became its casualty, the present unseen enemy in this war with all over the world as the theater, is humongous. The destruction in the economy is even worst although the damage in infrastructure is hardly noticeable.
In this light we would like to use the same “Churchillian” message with a very minor twist, to express what perhaps will our President be saying as a matter of showing the Filipino people’s gratitude to the front liners who are still right there battling against the Corona Virus that has now infirmed hundreds of millions of people and snapping millions of lives as well worldwide.
And the same virus and the health pandemic it has brought to the world economy is like several kilotons of atomic bombs dropped all over the war theaters that the impact was so gargantuan every country – the Philippines included –is now on its knees.
Yes, in this war against CoViD 19 it is not remote that President Rodrigo Duterte may be or may have already been issuing statements that may be differently said but exactly with a similar message to our front liners. Possibly, he could be saying now, or may say soon this phrase: “Never in the field of the government’s response against the CoViD 19 pandemic; in its successes, actual or perceived, is so much owed by so many to so few front liners .”
Now, talking of the number of Filipinos from whom gratitude may be expected by the few front liners battling the unseen enemy, how many are still left to do homage to our saviors?
As we have always been reminded, the pandemic has already caused the deaths of some 12 thousand of our people as of the latest figure provided by the Department of Health (DOH). Compared to that of the United Sates, Brazil, India or Russia, the 12 or so thousand people dead from CoViD is peanut. But for the
Philippines however, where the over 113 million population is reared by religious and traditional conservatism, the figure could already be staggering, especially in the emotion side.
It is this same religious and traditional conservatism that has also wedged a problem to the government in meeting the expectation to hasten the time of going back to normalcy. That is, attaining herd immunity by vaccinating at least about 70 percent of Filipinos to ensure that the infection rate of the virus will be stemmed, or perhaps totally stopped.
Again if we have to take the pronouncements of government officials, we now have a total of some 113 million Filipinos. Why have we gone that many in so less number of years after World War II? We understand that the government has made serious strides in factoring the population into its socio economic development programs.
This was done through the Commission on Population or PopCom. The result of the national census in 1990 disclosed that the Filipinos number 60.7 million. It was estimated then by the authorities that for the next 30 years the average growth rate of the population would be at 2.4 percent, or may even decelerate.
Nevertheless, the then National Statistics Office (NSO) now the Philippine Statistics Authority or PSA came up with a population projection of the country for the next 30 years starting from 1990. And using the estimated growth rate and a low assumption basis, the projected number of Filipinos by the end of last year was at 89.9 million. We would have reached 97 million by 2030.
Low assumption projections most closely approximate the actual population count in the year of the census when the projection was also calculated. But where are we now? They say we are at 113 million people. The present population overshoots the projected by as many as 24 million people! Thus, the government has to vaccinate about 79.1 million Filipinos to reach the so-called herd immunity against CoViD 19.
Now, when will our government be able to achieve this number given the lack of available supplies, the doubting Thomases of the vaccine’s effectiveness, and the many spoilers of the program due to personal and political considerations?
We are still way far from such objectives. But at least we now know where we are going despite arriving at a lot of crossroads.
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