Saturday, July 24, 2021

Malilong: In the words of Mike Rama

The Other Side

MIKE Rama reminds me of my favorite high school literature teacher. He does not seem to run out of words. This is the man who gave us “Together We Can Make Things Happen” on his second term as mayor, made “paradigm shift” his battlecry, and demanded that the Philippine National Police give him the police chief of his choice in words that would make Patrick Henry blush.

Yesterday, I learned that more terms have been added to the Rama lexicon. He has been trying to “hit 10 birds with one stone” during the last few weeks, he told me over the phone, referring to the regular meetings he had been holding with groups of 10 in the Rama compound to drum up support for Covid-19 vaccination.

“Give vaccine a chance, give vaccine a try,” is his campaign slogan, the vice mayor, who is also the city’s vaccination czar, said. But he admits to one big problem: Which vaccine? Bigger still, what vaccine?

Not only have the vaccines come in trickles, there seems to be confusion in Manila as to which vaccines to administer, particularly to senior citizens, Mike noted. Initially, they prescribed the Sinovac only for people in the 59-18 bracket, he pointed out, but now they’re saying that the seniors can have them too. What has changed in the interim?

Indeed, the messaging has been confusing, making more difficult the process of convincing those who are recalcitrant or are truly afraid to reconsider and have themselves jabbed in the arm. What makes it worse is that the only other vaccine that has so far landed in the country, Astra Zeneca, has been temporarily banned from use in many countries because of its possible connection to the brain blood clots that a few people developed after getting vaccinated.

They should clarify this once and for all, Mike said. When I asked him who “they” were, Mike replied without hesitation, that he meant the World Health Organization, the Department of Health and the IATF. Only they can build the people’s trust in the vaccine, he said.

During our conversation, the vice mayor also:

- Added his voice to the growing protest against the tagging of a variant of the Covid-19 as the Central Visayas variant. “I thought that we are only one Philippines,” he said. “Instead of shaming us, they should recognize us for managing the virus on our own.”

- Said he will not be drawn into a word war with former mayor Tommy Osmeña, who criticized him and Mayor Edgar Labella during a recent barangay assembly in Apas, the same gathering where Tommy called out Councilor Niña Mabatid for allegedly lying. “If he attacks us, that means we are significant.”

- Reiterated that he will support Mayor Edgar’s reelection bid with him as running mate. They are ready to defend their record at the appropriate time, which he says, shall be in October. “In the meantime, we should be fighting Covid, not each other.”

“Freedom with responsibility,” Mike said before we ended our chat, “that is how we should behave until the pandemic is over.” Another slogan from his vast collection. A wise one, if I should add.


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