Issues and problems with the Social Amelioration Program

So, you haven’t received your financial assistance under the Social Amelioration Program (SAP) of the Philippine Government? Don’t worry, you are not alone. And you may not need to do a Speedtest to learn when will that arrive because probably it won’t — not unless the national government will revisit and revise some of its policies and pronouncements, and all the local government units (LGUs) cooperate.

Continue reading “Issues and problems with the Social Amelioration Program”

Things to do beyond touring your house on ECQ

When President Rodrigo Duterte declared the extension of the community quarantine cum lockdown, he advised three things to do to avoid boredom: (1) One could visit and tour all the corners of his/her house, (2) Study, or, if one doesn’t like to study anymore, (3) Buy cellphones and just use them. In his lingo, he said “mag tuplok-tuplok na lang kayo sa bahay”.

Percentage of Families by floor Area measured in terms of square meters.
Source: 2017 Annual Poverty Indicators Survey
Continue reading “Things to do beyond touring your house on ECQ”

Why selective ECQ is more beneficial

Will the lockdown continue beyond April 30?

President Rodrigo Duterte is set to decide on this and possibly announce the decision tomorrow, April 23. While the health sector is pushing for a sustained lockdown cum enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), the business sector is saying otherwise. Indeed, the economy has come to a halt because of Coronavirus disease (Covid 19) and responsive governance need to come-in.

Governance is the balancing of interests of all stakeholders. While the sustained ECQ will be beneficial to everyone’s health (assuming the guidelines are strictly followed), it also bleeds the resources not only of the government but also everybody’s. So while in long term the ideal is the sustained ECQ, it is not realistic. For this, we are saying that selective lockdown– or in areas only where there are Covid-19 positive cases — is better and will bring most benefits for the greater good.

  1. Economic activities can resume in non-affected areas. This means income will grow.
  2. With the economic activities resuming, we can expect production to start in non-affected areas. This means food production and the resumption of manufacturing essential goods particularly those related to health.
  3. With production and manufacturing activities resuming, the population that will not be under the lockdown will have jobs and will not thus become dependent on the government.
  4. With a segment of population not becoming dependent, the government will then have the ability to refocus the resources to those that are really in need.
  5. Local officials, particularly barangay officials, will not become a subject of hate and ridicule particularly by disgruntled citizens.

But of course, stricter guidelines should be implemented and enforced. For those affected by lockdowns, borders should really be closed and no one or nothing should enter or exit except food and essential goods.

P10 M reward for vaccine discovery exposes government’s shortsightedness

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said in an online press conference on Tuesday, April 21, said that President Duterte is offering a P10 million reward to Filipinos who can discover a vaccine against Coronavirus disease (Covid 19). This is in addition to the substantial grant that will be given to the University of the Philippines (UP) for the development of the vaccine.

While at the onset it looks appealing, the announcement clearly shows the government’s shortsightedness and lack of a concrete plan on how to address the disease. In the first place, we have a Department of Science and Technology that could have been tapped, along with the UP and the private sector, for the development of the vaccine. Instead of offering the money as a reward, why not use it as a capital for the development of the vaccine? That is more pro-active than just waiting for somebody to come to the fore and offering the result.

Malacañang’s offer reminded me of the story of one law professor. While walking in a mall, the law professor was greeted by a couple who introduced themselves as one of the students of the professor. The parents proudly announced that they are fattening a cow in preparation for the graduation of their son. The professor politely responded, “That is very generous of you. But I suggest you sell the cow and buy law books for your son so that he will be able to graduate”.

Malacañang is acting like the parents. While very proud to announce the P10 million reward, it fails to consider that the reward can already be used to support the development of the vaccine. Besides, if the government will invest the money for the development, the more that it can regulate the vaccine’s pricing. Won’t that be better return on investment than just dangling the amount?

Will the Philippines also turn its back on China?

China’s economy is on a ventilator. Governments are pulling their companies, in some cases paying the latter just to move out of China. All this because of the pandemic that originated from the Dragon country. With the world turning its back on China also lead the make the Philippines do the same?

Prior to the declaration of the enhanced community quarantine, the Philippine government barely quelled sinophobic sentiments. With the Filipinos whose hearts still beat for the American dream, it is not impossible not to be affected by the bandwagon. Besides, hasn’t the government turned again to the World Bank and not China to finance Covid response? Hence, it will be difficult for the Duterte Administration not to be swayed by local sentiments especially considering that the next election is only a couple of years away, and that President Rodrigo Duterte is being threatened not only with local but also international cases.

Given these, there is no doubt that the Philippines will turn its back on China. Not unless the Philippine officials have been given more than enough to cover their eyes and keep their mouths shut.