The Coronavirus Disease (Covid-19) can be considered a litmus test for all of us. We witness how governments respond to such pandemic and the way we people treat each other. This unusual time exposes and further polarizes the gap between the rich and the poor, as well as the privileged feeling rich.
Earlier this year, experts and activists have called on the government to declare a travel ban from Mainland China and affected countries as the Covid-19 epidemic was beginning to spread. The administration dismissed these appeals, downplayed the potential impact and was more concerned about the ˝feelings of China˝ than the welfare of Filipinos. Then the administrationˈs troll army flooded social media platforms with the ˝Nakasabay ko sa Elevator…˝ narrative.
Had the government listened to the ˝reklamadors˝, we could have maximized our geographical advantage being an archipelago early on. However, the government failed to listen.
While I agree with the community quarantine implementation as it is scientific, however, it is important to note that it is useless without free mass testing and sufficient social services. Free mass-testing aims to objectively asses the spread, and we can derive an informed-based decision on containment actions. Social services such as food rations are important to ensure people not go outside.
The government and its troll army again dismissed these valid points and instead shifted the narrative to ˝basta sumunod ka na lang˝, to blindly follow with community quarantine. Worse, they accused the ordinary Filipinos as ˝matitigas ang ulo˝, which later was exposed that it was actually the rich and the influential who are the real ˝matitigas ang ulo˝, who can afford to hold parties, bypass protocols and worse sponsored cockfights (which by the way is the ˝ground zero˝ of Davao City’s local transmission).
Finally, the government yielded to conduct mass testing beginning April 14. This is an affirmation on the validity of the popular clamor of #FreeMassTestingPhNow, affirming that the left and the broad masses were right all along.
Disinformation thrives when the government lacks a tangible plan and an ineffective information dissemination campaign. When midnight press conferences look like more of a drinking session and ego-boosting chit-chats are not reassuring for the general public.
As the government is on a very paranoid state, the script of its troll army is as lost as the speeches of the President. Worse, they are using the poor, from janitors to 4Ps beneficiaries, like chopping boards to derail the real issue of government ineptness and lack of transparency.
Let us not fall into this middle versus lower class argument trap. Let us not pit against each other. Our real enemy is the ruling class, the 1%, and the government that protects them to plunder our people.
The challenge for us is not to become matapobres but how to show solidarity and compassion to the poor. It is our task to give voice to the voiceless, and offer guidance for those who cannot see.
Let us be truth-tellers.