"All who believed had all things in common."
Last week, the unlamented PNoy’s former Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario blared away that “in the face of continuing aggression by China, we would like to see a stronger leadership in our President…to stand up for what is ours.”
Well, maybe this time Duterte was listening. At an online conference Wednesday, the West Philippine Sea task force disclosed that we had sent seven warships to the waters around Palawan, named after such heroes as Miguel Malvar, Magat Salamat, Emilio Jacinto, Apolinario Mabini.
They were backing up four other vessels from the Coast Guard and Bureau of Fisheries and were soon to be joined by three more warships, named after the likes of Jose Rizal and Juan Luna. We also had five Navy and Air Force planes patrolling the area.
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Since that online announcement, there’s been nothing but ominous silence from our government. One can only conclude that there’s deadly serious business now going on, from which the armchair soldiers and the conscript media ought to be excluded.
Now did any of this please our pugnacious del Rosario? Apparently not. Our brave little warrior averred instead that “as we have said before, neither war nor bloodshed is an option for the Philippines to assert its rights over the West Philippine Sea”.
Wait, wait. Do you want to wage war or not? Or do you really think that we can bluff our way out of every military face-off? You think this is a game where we can always count on pulling up at the brink and sending in the diplomats to sort things out? You think that in this game of chicken, the other driver will always blink first?
People like del Rosario and his sidekick former Justice Antonio Carpio—a legal luminary who’s never met a situation that he thinks another law can’t solve, even in the deadly games played by nations—can be dangerous. By screaming to place our uniformed men and women in harm’s way, no matter how ill-conceived the plan may be, they put lives needlessly at risk.
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It’s always more pleasant to write about saving lives and not risking lives. Which is why we’re pleased to pass on the good news from the IATF’s chief implementer, Sec. Carlito Galvez, that literally tens of millions of additional vaccines are on the way here. On the list:
25 million doses of Sinovac, which started arriving last month
20 million doses of Moderna under signed deals with government (13 million) and the private sector (7 million) expected to start in June
30 million doses of Covovax committed to our country, with another 15 million still being negotiated
17 million doses of AstraZeneca for the private sector and LGUs starting June
20 million doses of Gamaleya’s Sputnik V under two separate contracts, starting this month with half a million doses
“Plans to procure” 25 to 40 million doses of Pfizer. The Americans first want to make sure they’ll get paid. No, you won’t find any bleeding-hearts among them.
That’s a total of 135 million to 150 million doses, enough to vaccinate the 70 percent of our population required to achieve “herd immunity.” Assuming they come in on schedule, however, these vaccines will present an unprecedented logistical challenge to the government. We can only advise our officials to learn some humility for a change and agree to delegate as much of the job as they can to the private sector.
This ongoing PPP is especially important in light of the opinion from Dr. Ozlem Tureci, the Turkish immigrant who co-founded the German co-developer of the Pfizer vaccine, that a third dose may later be needed. In fact, we may need to start going in for annual shots against Covid, the same as Westerners do against seasonal flu. We will definitely need the government and private sector to partner in this.
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Instead of lifting from today’s Gospel, I’ve decided to share this description by St Luke of the very first Christian community in Jerusalem (Acts 2: 44-45):
“All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their property and possessions and divide them among all according to each one’s need.”
It’s an obvious echo of the slogan being raised by the community pantries that have been springing up all over Metro Manila: From each according to his ability, to each according to his need. If this sounds like what communists might say, that only speaks to their cynical readiness to clothe themselves in the garments of a religion they could never abide as atheists and historical materialists.
Thus, instead of attacking the slogan or its well-meaning purveyors, we ought to reclaim from those with hidden agendas what is a pristine practice handed down by the first Christians: communitarianism, helping each other, sharing with the needy, practicing bayanihan. In fact, maybe this is one of the things we’re intended to learn from the trials that now beset us.
Readers can write me at firstname.lastname@example.org.