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ROUGH CUTS |  The Presidential aspirants’ interview

Vic N. Sumalinog

THERE is so much debate as to whether it is legal to impose a “No Vaccination-No-Ride” policy in public utility vehicles. But perhaps the question as to the legality of the policy should better be substituted with “Which is the greater mandate of government: To protect the health and safety of the greater majority of the people, or to abandon them to accommodate the caprice of a few who believe that their so-called human rights are trampled upon?”

     Yes, the decibel of the protestation of a few is being amplified even more by the anti- government forces – the opposition included – just to make sure that it will appear that government indeed is going out of all legal parameters just to have its way to attain herd immunity.

     But as always our position on the issue is guided with what a former professor of ours in an audit class at the University of South Eastern Philippines (USeP) years back said: “The real measure of development or success in whatever programs or projects undertaken is when the number of beneficiaries is much more than the number of those who believe they have suffered as a consequence.”

     Now, will the government’s curtailment of the convenience of a few results to the safety and security of the greater number of Filipinos from the risk of getting infected or even dying because of the dreaded Corona virus?

     For sure we will never come to know the outcome unless those who believe they are deprived of their rights give the policy a semblance of support even just for two or three weeks.

     We firmly believe that in times like this global health emergency everybody has the responsibility of making sacrifices if only to achieve the common good. After all, we are in this together.

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     And talking of sacrifices during this time, we could not help but share our own reaction on the answers of two presidentiables during the Jessica Soho Interviews aired last Saturday night.

    We are referring to the almost similar in context answers of VP Leni Robredo and Sen. Manny Pacquiao. Both candidates believe that the administration was indecisive as to what to do and when to start doing what they have to do to prevent the spread of the pandemic in the Philippines.

     Pacquaio even went farther by saying that the administration should have immediately started its massive vaccination program to ensure that every Filipino already bears the protection needed by the time the virus invaded the country.

     And VP Leni, too, subtly agreed with the senator from Sarangani. But my foot! How can the two talk of immediately launching a mass vaccination drive when the world renown pharmaceutical companies were still conducting studies on what vaccines are appropriate and still to have what they discovered to go into clinical trial to find out the discovered vaccines’ efficacy. Other than that the new vaccines have to undergo the process of being studied by countries who would want to use it so it can be issued its Emergency Use Authorization (EUA).

     Moreover, we presumed that the two Presidential candidates are well aware of the fact that the Philip[pines at that time was still scrimping for funds and exploring for loans from international funding institutions so the government could acquire the vaccines that are to be administered for free to each and every Filipino.

      Senator Manny should know how long it took Congress to give the go-signal for the government to borrow money and craft the law that authorizes its disbursement. And the two knew how existing procurement laws make government purchases extremely cumbersome.

     Meanwhile, from the way they answered the questions asked of those candidates present in the interview, it looked like they have all the solutions to the ills of the country. Isko Moreno even committed to complete the Marawi rehabilitation project by December 2022 if he wins in the May 9 elections. VP Leni claimed she and her team had been in Marawi several times already to undertake projects outside of the administration program loop supposedly to help our Moro brothers get back on their feet. She also assures the people that her government, should she win, will be transparent, accountable and ensures people empowerment.

     Aspirant Panfilo Lacson assured the people that he will stomp corruption in his government because that is the thing that he claims to hate the most. Pacquiao for his part warned the corrupt in various government agencies that their days are numbered. If he becomes President, all the corrupt officials will be jailed. Isko had identical answer with the rest with regards to what he will do to fight corruption in government.

     Big words all that the presidential aspirants said! But of course, saying or committing to do is far easier than doing what is or are committed to be done.

     But having said all those commitments is far better than not appearing in the interview and denying the people the opportunity to hear the non-appearing candidate’s views. Whether it was a strategy or plain cowardice, we have yet to know.

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