It is a choice between a rock and a hard place. In other words, whichever choice you make will not end up in the desired result.
But as the leader of the country, President Duterte has to make a decision and his decision to reject calls from his own Cabinet and his economic managers to ease current quarantine restrictions in order to revive the economy is, we believe, the right decision.
In no uncertain terms the President said that for as long as there is no vaccine rollout, he will not approve moves to loosen restrictions.
Earlier his own Health Secretary Francisco Duque has said that the DOH, as well as Metro Manila mayors, are ready to revert to the more lenient modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) to allow more businesses to open and more people to return to work.
National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Director General Karl Chua also said that restrictions that started in March last year have resulted in income loss of P1.04 trillion or P2.8 billion per day, which translates to an average annual income loss of P23,000 per worker.
Chua said that the number of Filipinos who are experiencing hunger has risen by 23.7 million, the number of poor people has increased by 4.5 million and jobless individuals have risen by more than two million.
Indeed, there is a need to balance the opening up of the economy and controlling the spread of the virus.
But of what use are economic gains if Filipinos continue to die from the virus? In Tagalog, we have a saying that says: “Anhin pa ang damo kong patay na ang kabayo?”
While we may disagree with the President when he becomes nasty against his critics, this time we totally agree with his decision.
Thus, the onus now lies on Vaccine Czar Carlito Galvez. He must hasten the procurement of the vaccines, work double time in order for the vaccines, from whatever sources, whether they are from the U.S., the United Kingdom, China or Russia, would be shipped to the Philippines.
It is unacceptable why Bangladesh, Pakistan and Cambodia, the poorest countries in the region have now started the inoculation programs while the Philippines is “still negotiating” with vaccine providers.
Mr. Galvez, a former AFP chief, should know that not only the lives of our people are at stake here but also the recovery of our economy. The ball is in your hands, Secretary Galvez.