Listen to St. Augustine

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Isn’t it ironical? The Health Department is looking for workers, while at the same time the agency is being probed for what could be anomalous actions or decisions of some of its officials. Indeed, it is a great shame that some of the people our government has entrusted with very important functions of our government, are proving themselves unworthy of the trust given to them. But it seems our President has a few of his men who may be condemned by others, but still retain his trust and confidence.


Of all the agencies of government, I believe that the Health Department is the one that should be manned by the most compassionate, patriotic, and honest officials and staff. And from the reports coming out, it seems it could also be a lair of people who have only their own interests and pockets in mind. I am not generalizing, I am still guided by my grandparents’ usual expression of “Fuera de los buenos”, or “Aside from the good ones”, a lot are not able to resist the temptation to take advantage of their positions.

Now that Congress has stepped in and initiated a probe on the operations of PhilHealth, what has it discovered? I regret having missed the session on it – if it had actually taken place – and alas for the unavailability of complete coverages of such activities that we had been used to expect from the print media, only radio and television are there to supply us with the national news. Here in our city, our own DAILY STAR tries its best to reach out for national reports, and this is one time when I am further convinced that print media still has a long way to go.

For how can one expect to be able to know what is happening if he or she does not happen to be in places when radio or TV are reporting the events? With print media, one can read and re-read one’s newspapers, that will still be available for reference even days after event. So we can even say that journalism is among the most affected by this pandemic. Me, I have always relied most on print sources to be able to confirm both facts and details, but cannot even catch up with radio or TV sometimes. This COVID thing that China has inflicted on the world has indeed changed even our way of life.

The latest report I got was that Senator Franklin Drilon is initiating a reorganization of the Philhealth as well as its computerization that is expected to prevent the virus of corruption that is suspected to be attacking it. I hear, though, that the President still has confidence in the people there, so, whoever has the goods, the real, unassailable evidences against those suspected of monkey business, should come out and reveal them, once and for all. It is too important an agency to be impoverished by corruption.

But it is distressing to hear the news – from TV, of course, mostly from CNN – that our countrymen are now being regarded by some countries as the bringer of the virus to their people. New Zealand, for one, is attributing the entry of the disease to their country to the entry of some Filipinos in Lebanon, the same report has come out. Also ironic is the fact that some of our lawmakers are now said to be considering the reimposition of the death penalty! Isn’t the COVID-19 sufficient to reduce our population? I am afraid, however, that our President could be in favor of that, so those against it should pray very hard that our lawmakers have minds of their own and not just go and do “clap, clap bowing” this time.

Why is it that even in times like this, there are still people, officials among them, who can cheat and deprive their fellowmen of assistance intended for them? Remember the distribution of the SAP, or Social Amelioration Program, where deprived families were given some amount to tide them over their worst times? Now there are no less than 888 barangay officials who are facing charges for having taken advantage of it by prioritizing their own relatives and families in the distribution. I will not be surprised if, with his present thinking, President Duterte will insist that the crime of such officials be included among those meriting the death penalty!

What do you think of the proposed Anti-Terrorism Law? I know several groups have demonstrated and rallied against it. Alas, we are not all privy to what exactly it provides, and therefore cannot react reasonably. But if there is any “terror” that we should all work against and drive out of our environment, it is none other than the raging COVID-19, that does not seem to show signs of abating, and in fact continues to surge, sparing no country worldwide. Me, I still believe that at this point our best weapon and antidote to it is prayer, since no discoveries or inventions by the world’s greatest medical minds have been found effective against it so far. So let us remember that – I think it was St. Augustine who said it – “More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of”. AMEN.*


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October 2020