Who’s to Blame?

Last night, I passed by downtown Naga, through General Luna, at around 7:30; and the streets felt like pre-Covid 10 or 11 pm. Yes, there were cars and tricycles; and I think the stores were open. But traffic seemed smoother and lighter. Vehicular movement used to be so sluggishly slow in these parts, with potential passengers pleading for any ride to their residences, along the sides of the streets, and that clothing shop that blasts loud speakers with Indian music which indicate continuity of commerce. That stretch seemed so quiet, almost as if it were nearing midnight. I don’t think the local government issued any rule to restrict commuters or commerce. Is this about Holy week? Are the people restraining themselves from extra-domestic dealings as a precaution from the pandemic? That would be good, refreshingly good.

We are awed spectators when the Philippines hit the 6,000 cases for a day mark, and we thought that has got to be the top and we couldn’t possibly go beyond that. Then, the next day, we proved that we could beat our own record with 7,000. Then, the next day, we still went past the previous number. Then, as each day passes, it seems, that the numbers is a raging beast that could not be tamed but needs to be restrained with reins. If only those numbers were indicators of the common Filipino citizen’s daily income, its exceeding escalation would be a cause for celebration. But the rise seems to be desperately and helplessly relentless. So what, if other Southeast Asian nations are faring better, this crisis places us in the same league with Italy, France, Spain, the United Kingdom. We’re brushing shoulders among the developed countries. Although relatively far less alarming, the local numbers seems to be heading towards the same direction as the national representation. Gratefully or regretfully, the local streak follows a far less steeper line of increase. But nevertheless, the numbers in Naga and Camarines Sur are following an easy climb. (If it were not for the exponential explosion in the NCR, I wouldn’t be calling it an “easy” climb. But a wild chimpanzee would pale against the ravages of King Kong.) There were times when Camarines Sur municipalities could have almost declared themselves Covid-free. Now, there have been a steadily growing number of handful cases. Well, if you regularly watch national news, you could simply shrug it off. But still, it is an increase, and could cause more infections. How did these folks get sick when number of cases had been low in the past weeks? Had they returned from Manila or had come in contact with someone who had come from Manila? Since last year, people in Manila have been coming home to their original provinces. Are there still people returning or just fleeing Manila?

Popular sentiment has placed the blame on the government. Perhaps, the argument could hold some ground. Before March, the numbers were declining on a promising trajectory. Travel restrictions were easing. Vaccines arrived on the very last day of February. Things were looking up so much so that most people seemed confident to loosen Manila to GCQ and expect everything to be okay. Well, what do you know? All the virus broke loose, once the public were permitted with more unrestricted movement. Now, the fires caused by this freedom continue to flame on beyond expectation, and none seemingly could extinguish it. In a quick assessment of the situation, maybe, the pandemic may not have plunged into a pandemonium had the general community quarantine been maintained, or had authorities not been too hasty to loosen restrictions, or had we waited for some more months.

On the other hand, Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque defended the government by placing the blame on mutations, not on government response. Wait a minute. Excuse me, Sir. As far as I could remember, mutations started a little before the beginning of the year. The new variants were prominent in the Cordillera Region and in Cebu. ; but even then, the number of cases did not jump up to adding thousands in a day. Even in the acceptance of the assumption that the new variants caused exponential increase of cases, it had been contained in the community quarantine of January to February. In fact, even with the coming of these strains, the figures looked promising to justify considerations of more fluid social interactions. So, go figure for yourself, did the mutations ignite this explosion?

Wait. How do people get infected again? Oh, we could get it by droplets from other people. So, ultimately, if we limit interaction, we don’t get the virus. So could it be that this surge is attributable to us, the public?

“whatever one sows, that will he also reap”

Galatians 6:7