ALL we see are withered faces with worn-out expressions. Why? The Covid-19 pandemic has battered the brains of our leaders so badly that hopelessness is painted all over their long faces. While we want to pity them as citizens, we know that they should have been aware right from the start that this pandemic will extensively put to test their leadership and crisis management skills. And because people are mostly marooned in their homes, our eyes are all but laser-focused on almost everything that our government is doing.
Ironically, leaders in this country aren't used to that fishbowl kind of scrutiny. They swore they are pro-people last election and in previous ones but now hate public scrutiny. Inevitably, many leaders have already unwittingly exposed in public and on broad daylight their sheer inability to lead in difficult situations. Worst, many leaders have totally lost their moral ascendancy to lead by failing to prove the heroic narratives that they so claim to win votes.
Notwithstanding, the role of a crisis manager has been officially ascribed to every mayor of every city based on a memorandum circular issued by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG). Now the question is how have they fared so far in the performance of this role? How do you rate the competence and effectiveness of your crisis manager in the light of constant developments? How would you rate their ability to think out of the box and not wait for solutions to fall upon their laps?
Today, our nation is facing a double whammy -- first, leaders who are corrupt and obsolete systems that are ideal for corruption; and second, leaders who are linear thinkers even in the midst of disruption that is calling for innovation and innovative solutions. Tragically, Covid-19 is caused by a new or novel coronavirus. It will take more than just the traditional tricks of old dogs for us to survive this. New "bayanihan" means innovative, collaborative, more inclusive and real-time strategies to fight Covid-19 so the old concept of bayanihan is not going to be enough.
The stark lack of innovation is figuratively and literally suffocating. Maybe not obvious and therefore appalling to those who are knowingly or unknowingly contented with what is happening. But suffocating. It is like reverse osmosis. Instead of leaders inspiring their communities, breathing fresh air into their localities and bringing hope along with innovative ideas, they drain the life out of our communities just like Covid-19, siphoning the energies out of their constituents.
As the number of cases grew by the thousands every day, we all now seem to have grown tired to even think, much less ask why. Why are the numbers growing? Because the constant answer has always been -- it is our fault as citizens.
Amid this treacherous type of mediocrity, a few thinking Filipinos still ask solid trigger questions as early as the beginning of 2020 -- to what could have been several use cases for solutions. Since many of our leaders refuse to learn from big data which apparently the World Health Organization (WHO) is dishing out every minute, then let us set that aside and start from scratch by at least asking commonsense questions. Here are mine:
Phase 1 -- What if the coronavirus comes to the Philippines? What should be our strategies to stop it on its tracks?
Phase 2 -- What if the coronavirus is already in the Philippines? What should be our strategies to ensure that cases are down to the lowest possible number?
Phase 3 -- What if the pandemic takes months and our number of cases grow? What should be our strategies to endure the protracted period and prevent the rising of cases?
Phase 4 -- What if the process of inventing a safe vaccine takes its usual course which is years and not months? What should be our strategies to survive and lessen the serious impact of the pandemic to our public health system, our economy and our country in general?
Do the questions above make sense to you? Aren't these supposed to be asked by planners and decision makers. When we continuously deny possible scenarios, and refuse to prepare for worst case scenarios, we continuously position our communities at the point of unpreparedness. When we simply wait for a vaccine to be invented validated and circulated, we press the standstill button inside our heads. That could be a good coping mechanism for ordinary people to use but absolutely not for our leaders. When our leaders refuse to think and to think ahead, or to act and to act ahead -- we may have to push that standstill button for all eternity.