The Philippines has been a scene of COVID-19 dystopia after the deadly strain of coronavirus ravaged the country and claimed thousands of lives. Those left alive have had to contend with mass-retrenchment, lengthy lockdowns and of course surging prices of goods brought about by the closure of many local businesses and factories.
For haft a year, the entire Philippine economy has been on the its deathbed while the majority of the civilian population are virtually paralyzed, locked up in their homes. Soldiers and tanks roam the streets armed with M16 rifles and machine guns. Such a scene would surely look like Rambo or a warzone in Iraq.
The government justifies such draconian measures, asserting it is necessary to instil discipline among civilians and enforce social-distancing as well as limit their movement of travel to avoid the spread of the virus. Indeed, many obliged, and the Philippines is ranked as among the highest in terms of how the people followed this policy.
Unfortunately, the Philippine government has never been prepared or clearly has no coherent plan in mind about the crucial steps to take in order to finally curb the ever-increasing number of coronavirus cases in the country. For the time being though, the government say the numbers were going down. Of course, the media realized that the DOH has been partially tweaking the numbers to make it look like we’re winning the battle against COVID-19. This outrage was soon followed by yet another scandal, this time, involving Philhealth. Like before, the public soon turned their gaze away from the government’s COVID-19 response failures.
Recently, dolomite sand was dumped on a stretch of Manila Bay’s shoreline along Roxas Boulevard to make it look more picturesque as well as distract the public from all of Duterte administration’s blinders and back-to-back scandals. The project cost the DENR P389 million, including P28 million for the crushed dolomite. Note that dolomite sand is typically used for construction and isn’t really safe for humans. Many scientific studies show that the said material can potentially cause serious respiratory problems to humans.
In fact, the National Center for Biotechnology Information, a division of the US National Institute of Health, concluded in one of its studies that exposure to high atmospheric concentrations of dolomite is associated with respiratory symptoms. So essentially speaking, the government is squandering millions of taxpayer money on a potentially dangerous material just to cosmetically and magically transform the shoreline in Manila Beach? And for how long? At what cost to maintain it? Until the next typhoon sweeps it away?
Despite this grandiose propaganda act, the Manila Bay has never been clean and still immensely polluted for the public to swim in it. Had the government used its resources to try and fix the source of the problem instead of merely making a small shoreline appear Boracay-like, then of course we shouldn’t be here complaining.
Except that this has not been the case. Even worst, the government illegally pounded a mountain in Cebu without consulting the LGU’s and hauled the crushed dolomite all the way to Manila, as seen in the photo below.
Now, as the government announced that they will be opening the said cosmetically enhanced dolomite filled shoreline to the public, thousands flocked to watch the spectacle and take Instagram pictures as sort of bragging rights that “..Hey we’re here.. a dangerous cosmetically enhanced beach… Fuck.. we forgot where did the Philhealth money went..?”
People flocked to the streets with many bringing banners bearing the President’s face while singing his campaign anthem. Social distancing thrown out the window. Soon enough, people started clumping around in huge crowds, many chatting and goofing around like there’s no pandemic ever happening and no risk of transmitting the COVID-19 virus. Even more despicable is that not even a single policeman was present at the scene, at least as shown in the pictures, to curb the rising number of spectators and enforce social-distancing whenever possible.
So to sum up – this short-sighted dumb propaganda plan to stir the people and distract them ultimately resulted in endangering many people’s lives.
1. Dolomite is dangerous to your health and may potentially cause serious respiratory disease.
2. COVID-19 virus transmission risk increases in huge crowds
So that’s double whammy problem. Just to save Duterte’s face.
It’s amusing how people are okay with all this.