ILOILO CITY |With death rate as criterion, perhaps Germany has the most efficient and effective crisis response to the coronavirus pandemic. With approximately 92, 000 people testing positive, the fatality has only been at 1.4% (1,295) lower even than the 1.7% of South Korea which has institutionalized one of the best public health protocols¹. Besides Germany’s sophisticated health-care system which allows for well-equipped facilities and swift contact-tracing and testing, trust in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s administration is one of the key factors to such a feat. With this, Germany simply has everything the Philippines is without.
It is undeniable that the healthcare system (and by extension the public health mechanisms) in the country is poor and pitiable. Government-owned hospitals, healthcare facilities, and resources are sorely lacking. These facts has been betrayed when coronavirus fell hard and heavy upon the archipelago. Within the first few weeks of the pandemic’s onset, masks were already out-of stock; healthcare providers are left to attend to patients without testing kits; and now the surge of people diagnosed as positive (with the scarce testing materials) and are suffering complications cannot be attended properly in public hospitals for lack of equipment necessary to do so.
What else could be the reason for these but the budget-cut amounting to 10 billion² pesos for health fund? A move, that is, to my understanding implies the gradual relinquishment of healthcare provisions to private entities inaccessible to a great proportion of the Filipino populace. That the previous proposed version (i.e. Senate Bill 1413) of the “Bayanihan to Heal As One Act of 2020” provides and allows the state to take-over the management of private healthcare institutions³, is indicative of this. The plague of capitalism and the privatization it entail is indeed another daemon which aggravates the pandemic.
With this dilemma that confronts us, what is supposed to be a sturdy anchor is a wise and competent leader to hold the country together through the storm. Perhaps, someone like Angela Merkel of Germany who enjoy high approval for her rational decisions, and composed and clear articulation of plans and protocol ascribed to as one huge factor in the low fatality. Yet even this is wanting (well, what can you expect from a Chief Executive who approved the budget-cut for health?) for what we have is a President who lets his phallic fixation take over and employs the police and the military with their M-16s to instigate lockdowns instead of institutionalizing public health remedies; who speaks gibberish and non-sense in press conferences, when his constituents are yearning for clear and substantiated protocols; and who, after pulling strings in the congress for his emergency powers, does nothing but to intimidate well-meaning LGU Chief Executives through state forces⁴, spew vitriolic remarks and ad hominem to critics⁵, and issue shoot to kill orders⁶. Who we have is Rodrigo Duterte. And for this, one can only heave a deep sigh for unfortunately, wisdom does not always accompany old age, sometimes it’s just pure senility and authoritative foolishness.
While Germany, with its robust healthcare mechanism and promising Chancellor Merkel, is set for a swift recovery from the pandemic, we can only expect the worst for the Philippines with the kind of healthcare system and President we have. To borrow from Salvador Panelo, “… our country is now in the precipice of annihilation as he [Rodrigo Duterte] leads us to face this Armageddon [COVID-19 pandemic].” /www.panaytoday.net
* Writer Jhio Jan Navarro is a sophomore BA in Psychology student at the University of the Philippines Visayas in Miagao and a staff writer of Pagbutlak, the official student publication of the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS).