Disposition, not Intimidation



The neighbourhood can now let out a sigh of relief. The nine close contacts of one person who tested positive for Covid-19 have tested negative. That is a monument of the prevention of further infection in the looban and further around the barangay. Had at least one of them tested otherwise, the whole area would have been placed in extended and more stringent lockdown; probably hampering economic activities in a not so affluent community; which would strike the residents as bad as an infectious disease. Now, with the assurance of safety, the local populace can go about with relative normalcy; just as long as they put those masks and shields on. Appreciation was given to the punong barangay of the adjacent barangay, who lent a hand by pulling his tanods to join in managing the lockdown of the neighboring area. Is not that remarkable? A populist policy would probably direct the tanods to barricade the borders from the barangay with the positive case to ensure no infection would spill over the boundary, for the sake of their own compatriots. But the barangay chief executive actually ordered the streets’ sentinels to temporarily leave their posts (which could have been taken advantage of by delinquents) and lend a hand to their neighbors who needed help at that time. That’s how Bgy. San Agustin, Canaman went out of their way for neighboring Bgy. Haring. Now, if only we could see something similar in other places and other levels of public service.

I have lost track of the number of the cases in our town, in the metropolitan city, and the neighboring towns. I go about downtown and there seems to be an air of normalcy across the streets. Or is this sense of normalcy a front for the numbness for the dangers that still lurk around, and along with them, the difficulties in stretching the strong structure that commerce is capable of, the indecision of execution of education, and suspension of cultivation of social traditions. Maybe it is not really numbness. Maybe, in its bare form, it is actually apathy, one that has developed from the frustration over the failure of palpable and prominent products from months of procedures and protocols, and that great urge of nature to go out and simply survive against the odds of contagion.

Cambodia does not strike us with much impression as much as Singapore, Thailand or Malaysia. From firsthand accounts, a large part of the country has yet to be electrified. A good mall would be as big as our 7-eleven. Personally, I still think of the movie, “Killing Fields”. Although civil liberties have been restored, it has long seemed that this modest nation has found it hard to totally rise above from its genocidally dark past. While we, Filipinos were in extreme lockdown, people were queuing up for ayuda, and positive cases were on an incessant increase in the middle of April, our Indochinese neighboring nation had reported zero cases from its peak of a couple of hundreds. We’re not talking about any economic powerhouse or a bastion of technological advancement here. Through the past months until the recent weeks, government spokespersons have been expressing distress over the availability of the country’s resources in response to the pandemic. I don’t think Cambodia has a more stable economy than ours; so we can’t really blame resources. So, why is a far more industrialized country with a more impressive economy and almost 60 years of democracy (except for the intermission of Marcos Martial Law) obviously faring far worse. So, maybe it’s not really means that this country needs to combat the contagion; but management, intelligent management. Apparently, the clarification to this calamity is within the capabilities of the most unassuming of states. The government dispensed money and waits for medicine from perceived friendly nations. But maybe the solution is not there. Definitely, because others have done it and we haven’t been able to. As implied, we’re not hitting a target that some others had easily hit.

We’ve been hearing the President broadcast his briefings late at night when I would be drowsy and sleepy. If he expressed concrete programs, maybe I missed it or had slept because it had been too late at night. When the opponent gets you on checkmate, you don’t make a move against any other piece but face the check head on. But what the President does in the middle of this health, economic and political crisis is divert from the problem in front of all of us, and turn to his rhetorics against drug pushers, because that’s his comfort zone. How disappointing it is that this problem that we have had for months now can not be solved by intimidation, but by calm, apolitical disposition.

By the way, Cambodia had one month streak of no Covid-19 cases. It was broken in the middle of May by a Filipino who travelled from here, who apparently got past authorities who should have tested him right. (We can’t even pull ourselves up; then we might pull others down.)

“The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.”

Proverbs 12:15