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Bacolod City, Philippines Friday, January 18, 2019
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with Carlos Antonio L. Leonardia

Alter egos just our luck


Right after my family goes through the process of renewing our passports that included waiting 40 days for an appointment and securing the silly requirement of brand new NSO birth and marriage certificates, Teddyboy Locsin, the Secretary of Foreign Affairs who hails from Silay, signs an order removing the requirement of birth certificates from passport renewals.

Thanks to the brouhaha that broke out after Mr. Locsin alarmed the nation in a series of tweets and uncouth responses to his exaggerated revelation that the previous passport contractor had “run off” with our personal data, birth certificates are no longer required. If there’s anything good that came from the ridiculously vulgar twitter freak-out of our country’s top diplomat, this would be it.

It would be nice if Filipinos could have nice things without drama, exaggeration, outright lies or tasteless jokes from our top public officials but we are a people so hungry for change that at this point, we will take anything they can give regardless of how they give it. The Filipino people should thank one of Silay City’s most accomplished sons for doing the right and common-sensical thing of removing this unnecessary requirement from the passport renewal ordeal. He could’ve made our lives easier quietly and without controversy but let us be thankful that at least he did it. With bombast even.

My family and I won’t benefit from this grand gesture by SFA Locsin to make life easier for Filipinos but there are millions more who will save a lot of time and money because of his tantrum and the simple solution that followed.

So despite the theatrics, blaming the “yellows” and the Twitter drama of our country’s top diplomat and alter ego of the President, there was no data breach and now we don’t have to submit birth certificates. Formerly respected journalist Teddyboy Locsin has taken the definition of alter ego to a new level with his metamorphosis and performance as he now exaggerates for attention and cusses like a Bisaya who is not from Silay but because we’ve got a “one of our guys” in the DFA, all is well that ends well, right? If you are happy with how things are then I am happy for you.

As for me, if I can get my renewed passport within this month, I’m hopeful I won’t have to do anything with that government agency for the next 10 years and that is good enough.

Maybe expecting government officials like Locsin to live up to certain standards is too much. Because if you come to think of it, when it comes to exaggerated, irresponsible and alarmist statements he is not the only one. No, I’m not referring to our president, although he most certainly sets the bar for his alter egos and everyone in government service when it comes to spewing outrageous, tasteless and ultimately useless commentary. They said we’d get used to it but it’s been almost 3 years and some of us still can’t get his brand of humor.

Anyway, one such government official is the head of the Public Attorney’s Office. Persida Acosta has been exaggerating, alarming, and outright lying to the public as she wages her inexplicably myopic campaign against the vaccine Dengvaxia. This presidential appointee has been running around telling everybody that people have died directly because of the vaccine despite having neither the facts nor the qualified experts to back up her outrageously dangerous claims. The fact that she’s been doing it for months with no public reprimand and getting to keep her job means she either has the blessing of her appointer or he doesn’t care about the damage his appointee is inflicting upon the country’s health system.

Acosta’s campaign, which has almost nothing to do with being the head of the PAO, has seriously affected vaccine confidence among Filipinos and unlike her claims of deaths caused by Dengvaxia, the results are measurable. Ever since they started, vaccinations have dropped and cases of preventable diseases like measles are rising. Their campaign has most certainly killed more people than they claim Dengvaxia has killed.

This week Department of Health officials said that there has been no confirmed cases of Dengvaxia-caused deaths despite the PAO outcry. A government that does nothing while it’s PAO to contradict the DOH which is supposed to the expert on health-related matters in this country allows fear and panic to take over. This would be funny if Presidential spokespeople were saying it was all another of this comedy bar administration’s tasteless jokes but they’ve been silent so far.

Exaggeration, fear, panic, joking and cursing. If you come to think of it, that would be what our government is all about these days. Those who want to stay in power mimic their boss and those who do it well get to keep their jobs. Teddyboy and Persida are just the examples that come to mind right now but if you think about it, there are most probably more government officials with that mentality running our country right now.

Change has come indeed. Whether you like it or not, it’s up to you.*  

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