The Duterte government has since been harping the term ”Disiplina” to justify all of its unthinkable strong-handed laws and policies which have since victimized more than 30,000 people from unjust red-tagging and extrajudicial killings.
His insatiable greed for blood and gold is unmatched with even Marcos himself, who ruled for almost 2 decades and ordered the killing of more than a hundred people.
Most of his followers in Davao City and his surprisingly rabid social-media following would call him ”Berdugo”. A testament of his strongman style politics which he’s constantly bragging about in many of his speeches, even before the official Presidential campaign period of 2016 started.
People are stunned and mesmerized by radical tough-talking charisma that they too agreed that their countrymen ought to be disciplined to such an extent to attain an era of harmony and peace, unbeknownst to them that it would be of eerie silence, muffled screams and the stench of death.
It’s been more than 4 years and the illegal drugs which the state poured enormous amounts of money and resources, including the death of innocent children and pregnant women which Duterte scoffed of merely collateral-damage in attaining peace. Though it took some time, later on, he gradually admitted that he has failed in the war against drugs. And that ”Disiplina” with guns all blazing, doesn’t seem to be working.
And then, all of sudden. COVID-19 exploded in Wuhan, China. The deadly airborne pathogen is so infectious and extremely lethal to people with compromised immune systems. Other countries, most particularly Taiwan quickly took action and banned all incoming and outgoing flights to China.
Yet, our President. Rodrigo Duterte and his yes-men cabinet. Ignored our pleas. He maintained that the virus does not pose a threat to us and we shouldn’t be thinking of doing a nationwide lockdown.
Was he right? Of course not. A Chinese citizen who has traveled in Wuhan escaped through Hongkong as Chinese authorities scrambled to put the city on lockdown. The said woman then, eventually flown to the Philippines carrying with her the deadly COVID-19 virus.
The rest is history. The virus exploded like a nuclear bomb. The DOH tried their best, but they’re too slow and bogged-down with bureaucratic restrictions when sharing private information about airline passengers. This ultimately dragged their contract-tracing efforts until it’s too late.
Of course, the moment Duterte ignored the signs and warnings to impose a ban on flights coming in and out of China. Our fate is sealed. The virus will surely wreak havoc in metropolitan areas and severely affect our already reeling economy.
His followers, fans, and rabid social-media trolls once again echoed his statements calling for the cops to shoot unarmed civilians who dared violate the lockdown policies.
And the saddest thing is that these officers are all too eager to satisfy Duterte and his follower’s thirst for blood. They shot an old man in a far-flung province of Negros for not wearing a mask. And then, of course, an ex-soldier with mental illness was also mercilessly gunned down by policemen for apparently ignoring police checkpoints.
Since March until July. The Philippines have officially gained the world-title of the longest lockdown in history and yet the results are staggering as the number of infected people continues to increase every day. So what happened?
Well, people stopped their jobs. Many businesses were closed down in favor of the government’s call of total lockdown. Not only were people’s livelihood were sacrificed, but also our economy, which has largely been dependent on tourism, particularly benefiting the hospitality and entertainment industry.
So many resulted in eating scraps just to survive as the lockdown also eased public transports with many of the drivers and operators depend on every day to feed their families.
But the Filipinos, oh the usual ”super-tenacious” lot that we are. Continued and did our very best to survive. Unfortunately, during the past several months of total lockdown. The number of cases continues to rise, which the government sees as an indication that the people aren’t taking lockdown policies seriously.
Even Duterte blamed the Filipino people and then called them ”No Discipline” and ”Dumb”. He claimed that because of the people’s lack of participation and for not properly heeding lockdown procedures resulted in the steep increase in COVID-19 cases.
Are the people really at fault here?
Fortunately, we now have the answer. In a survey conducted by the Asian Development Bank in the Asia Pacific, ADB’s stringency index ranked the Philippines second, with 92.9 percent strictness level, after Nepal’s 95.2 percent. And Filipinos generally complied with the lockdown’s conditionalities.
On the drop in mobility, Filipinos cut down their mobility by 63.2 percent, again second in the mobility drop to Sri Lanka’s 66.4 percent. Truly, most Filipinos preferred to shelter in place, even in the congested slum areas where 10 people are packed in a small shanty. Despite the harsh living conditions under the lockdown and the paltry aid from official and non-official sources, they hardly ventured out during the three-month lockdown.
So it’s super clear that it isn’t our fault. Filipinos are following lockdown procedures diligently with no further tussles.
Duterte’s decision to allow the entry of Chinese citizens during the first few months of pandemic resulted in the loss of more than P1.3 million, or 7.7 percent, of gross domestic product because of the strict lockdown, one of the severest in the Asia Pacific region.
And yet, despite all of this. The Duterte government instead of creating a clear and conscious health-oriented strategy to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus and put an end to the seemingly uncontrollable rise of infected patients and also the unfortunate many who died from it.
It instead poured its time and resources to try and silence online dissenters in its Anti-Terror Law and then of course the unjust closure of ABS-CBN a media-giant who has no legal violations whatsoever to justify the closure.
Nevertheless, the disgruntled and weary people of the Philippines carried on and as with all typhoons and earthquakes in the past. Will try and survive the day, keeping their faith in God that maybe one-day. We’ll be free from this darkness.