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Bacolod City, Philippines Tuesday, August 11, 2020
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People Power is the key

Ninfa Leonardia

If a survey were to be taken today on parents and teachers as to whether they are in favor of opening classes this month, what do you think the responses would be? My own feeling is that a majority would opt for a postponement. Especially if they have heard the reports that in Israel, where the authorities decided on opening classes, COVID-19 cases immediately surged. And it is not true, as originally believed, that younger people are less likely to be infected. Cases involving teenagers and younger people have already been reported. So what’s the hurry?

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And it looks as if this virus, this wicked COVID, has not spared any area in the country. Siquijor, that used to be known as a model for the unaffected areas, has now reported two cases, frontliners in the fight against the disease. Let us include them in our prayers because they had risked their health in order to serve the sick, and now they are themselves stricken. We do not want to succumb to despair, but when, oh when, will this virus meet its end?

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But the COVID is not the only problem the world has to contend with these days. There are riots, there are blasts like the one that devastated Beirut, the capital of Lebanon, where a huge stock of ammonium nitrate, stored for several years, although its purpose for being there has not been explained, suddenly exploded, killing 158 people as of latest count, and injuring more. Worse, it also rendered more than 300,000 homeless. To make matters worst, their president is so heartless, he refuses to accept foreign assistance in probing the case!

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According to the news, the people are mad at their president, but what can they do? They do not have the guts of the Filipinos who, when tyranny became unbearable, took matters into their own hands and staged a People Power revolt, that earned them the admiration and respect of other countries worldwide. I am sure that, by the example our people showed in the way they ousted Ferdinand Marcos and sent him fleeing to Hawaii, any future leader of our country will think twice before attempting to use an iron hand to govern us.

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So far, we have not heard any announcements from the authorities about their plans for the opening of classes. I don’t think even the office of the President has issued any statement regarding that. I hope they will not make any hasty decisions, after all, even if we have to open in September or even October, classes can be extended into the summer months to complete the school year. A news report from the state of Georgia said that when the administration decided to start classes, nine students were immediately found positive for the virus! Imagine the horror of parents who knew that their children had been exposed to carriers! And nine of them at that!

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But what is the secret that New Zealand has discovered? Yesterday’s report from CNN said that in the past 100 days, no COVID cases had been reported in the country. Aren’t medical men and scientists rushing there or communicating frantically with their counterparts in that country for information on the cure that they have discovered? And if they also have perfected a vaccine that could preempt the infections and save more lives. Any country that has discovered a foil to this pandemic should be generous enough to quickly share it with the rest of mankind.

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I wonder, though, what Americans are thinking about their President. Despite the raging pandemic that has hit their country even harder than some others, their leader seems to be focused only on his reelection. I don’t know if the American media is limiting its reports on him, but I don’t think I have ever heard or seen him on TV giving statements on what his administration is doing to stave off the scourge of this virus that has apparently hit his country badly, and even worse than others.

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Fellow media people, rejoice! And give thanks to the Lord that we are still enjoying the freedom granted by our Constitution. Be thankful that we do not have the same fate as our counterparts in Hongkong that is now under China, and finding out how different British and Chinese attitudes towards the media are. Media practitioners who may have forgotten that the United Kingdom had already turned their government over to China are now being arrested left and right under their version of the Anti-Terrorism law. I suppose that, by writing negative things against the government, they become guilty of terrorizing it. More than ever, we who are in the media profession, should give thanks for the freedom we enjoy – but let us not abuse it, ever.*

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