We’re sensitive about what people think about us and our management of the pandemic? Well, here’s a real shocker: Someone just compared us to India! “We will not be like India; we will not be like Cebu,” were his exact words.
And he isn’t any ordinary someone. He is the chief of the Southern Philippines Medical Center and he slandered us, according to MindaNews, a publication of Mindanao Institute of Journalism, while reassuring the leadership and the people of Davao City that they were prepared for a Delta-driven surge in Covid-19 cases in the city.
Wait, slander may be inappropriate, for while Dr. Ricardo Audan’s perhaps unintentional swipe stings, it is not entirely undeserved. People in leadership in other places have a right to wish—and to prepare—that they do not go through the “Cebu experience.”
If Audan was guilty of anything, it was of exaggeration. No sober mind can compare Cebu to India or even mention the two in the same phrase. We know what happened to India when the pandemic struck. Millions became ill, overwhelming their health system and hundreds of thousands died so that it became impossible to give many of the dead a decent burial. We saw images of bodies being burned en masse in the parks or floating in their sacred river not too long ago.
That did not happen here, thank God, and I pray that even with the number of new cases rising consistently every day and the number of daily deaths seemingly racing against time to hit the century mark, it will not happen ever.
But much as I would like to assert that we are nowhere near India, I cannot turn deaf to the alarm bells that have been ringing since we heard that our hospitals were turning down patients because there were no more rooms and saw many of sick people lining on the streets to the emergency rooms, beside oxygen tanks that made breathing less labored, still hopeful that they could finally obtain accommodation. Some of them did, but how many may not have been able to return home?
Which is why it made me sad to learn that seven congressmen, some of whom are very dear friends, have chosen their political obligation to defend an ally over their moral duty to keep their constituents safe from and unreachable by the ravages of Covid-19.
The enemy is not Dr. Edsel Salvaña and it was not he, as the honorable gentlemen’s statement falsely asserted, that caused panic among the people. The enemy—invisible and treacherous—is the coronavirus and all that Salvaña, a doctor of medicine did, was to point out, all right, insist, how to keep it at bay.
We were already panicky long before Salvaña wrote the disputed column. The Delta variant had already found its way to Cebu before that and our Covid-19 cases were already rising ominously, although not necessarily because of the dreaded variant.
And panic isn’t exactly a bad thing under the circumstances. Haven’t they noticed that people started flocking to the vaccination centers for their shots when an unusual number of Covid victims started dying? Panic made them overcome their reluctance to get vaccinated.
Enough has been said in the controversy already and it’s time to move on from it. The congressmen and other people in power have bigger fish to fry. The Cebuanos will be happier if they issue a statement again, this time asking Malacañang or whoever it is that decides the allocation of vaccines to send more to Cebu.
We will forever be grateful in that event.