COVID-19 is not as big an election issue as the Philippine Opposition think

The Opposition repeatedly made an issue of the President’s statements with regard to the Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine. The first claim was it was more expensive than Western vaccines which provided the perception of anomalies in procurement. The second point was efficacy. It was supposed to be largely ineffective in its intended purpose. Then came the claim that someone dropped the ball with the purchase agreements for Western vaccines. The indemnification clause frees the manufacturer from any and all liability, in the event of a large group of the population or even an individual, suffer from side effects. The reason for this is there was no time to conduct extensive clinical trials given the urgency of the need to control the spread of the virus. President Rodrigo Duterte railed against these but in the end, the choice was easy to make because lives were at stake.

Given we are in a run-up to an election cycle, the Opposition is boxing in the President on the issue of China vaccines and the South China Sea. But vaccine nationalism is real. Until the humanitarian catastrophe in India with the surge in the number of cases, the US wasn’t willing to share their vaccine stockpile. The same was true with Europe. The Sputnik vaccine was the first out of the gate but it was also derided in the same manner as Sinovac because of the “lack of clinical data.” Simply put the global economy won’t be on the road to recovery until such time a semblance of normalcy is restored. But this will not be anything like the old normal given the virus continues to mutate.

The Opposition is also criticizing the state of the economy. Never mind that even rich countries are in a double-dip recession. The US is opening up so is the UK. But for the global economy, recovery is contingent on the attainment of herd immunity.

The vaccination timeframe outlined by the vaccine czar may be unrealistic but do we really have a choice? In his piece today “The sad story of our delayed vaccine rollout”, Inquirer columnist Randy David claims that the government should’ve provided us with one but the reality is even if the supply agreements had been closed in time, the vaccine deliveries would still be delayed due to the lack of manufacturing capacity given the new technology used to develop them. David then writes in conclusion…

…our President probably believed, deep in his heart, that he could always count on China, “our friend,” to deliver the vaccines we need when we needed them.

That’s how vassals think. That is not how modern leaders govern.

Strong words from the leftist-sociologist, to whom the brightest young recruits of the Left, supposedly undergo mentoring as they go up the leadership ladder of the various leftist-militant groups, which are the legal fronts of the Communist Party of the Philippines, its terrorist arm the New People’s Army, and its front organisation, the National Democratic Front (CPP/NPA/NDF).

The Opposition politicizes everything because this is the only strategy available to them for the coming 2022 polls. But you really have to wonder if they even have an iota of collective common sense about them given the stunts which they’ve been pulling in terms of protests about these issues; the closure of ABS-CBN, pandemic response, vaccine procurement, social amelioration and vaccine rollout. They have been so trivial to the point of raising the lechon that was served during the President’s simple birthday celebration at his home in Davao.

They’re also the first violators of the regulations under modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) which bans large gatherings of groups. The community pantry which was a political altruism and the protest rallies marking labor day yesterday are proof that theirs is a shotgun approach; whatever sticks is good for their cause. The desperation is evident because no matter how hard they try to bring down Duterte they always fall short.

The President has told them to pray harder if they want him to die in office so vice president Leni Robredo can succeed him. To the rumors of a withdrawal of support by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Duterte simply retorted that if Secretary of National Defense Delfin Lorenzana and the officers corps approaches him and says it’s time to go, he will get on a plane to Davao.

The political chess game being played is so lopsided that the Opposition is contradicting itself in many issues. Antonio Carpio and Alberto Del Rosario refuse to shed light on the Scarborough stand-off. The same is true with Antonio Trillanes with his bold claim that Duterte will land in jail after 2022. The fact is Duterte’s approval and trust ratings are still high despite the orchestrated negative media campaign against him.

Duterte will anoint his successor. Political parties are waiting on his next move as the Opposition does not possess the same kind of leverage the same had during the Arroyo and Aquino administrations. The public is concerned about their future and the opposition hasn’t buckled down to work to come up with an alternative for the public to look at. In the absence of such, the voters certainly will not think hard about voting for the administration candidates in the coming polls.

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