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Friday, December 9, 2022

#Eleksyon2022 The Way Out of COVID-19 is Through the Ballot

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Paul Tena
Paul Tena is an alumnus of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines. He currently serves as Editor-in-Chief of Politixxx Today and he also traverses into fiction writing in his spare time. Sometimes he goes by his pen name JPE Tena. His debut novel, The Lore Kingdom, was named an Honorable Mention in 2021 Lampara Prize. For more information, you may reach him via tenajpe@gmail.com.

It’s been more than a year and the clock is still ticking. The countless lives that perished, wasted opportunities that vanished and irreparable damage that continues to ruin millions of lives are but a tip of the iceberg of our global situation in the face of this pandemic. Perhaps, in the Philippines, we cannot claim that we experienced the worst. Although, statistically speaking, daily reports of various news organizations about the pandemic, etched our spot in the third place with the most number of reported cases among the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries.

The Vaccine Situation and Rollout

President Rodrigo Duterte pleaded to the general public to endure the situation at the middle of 2020. As much as we want to applaud the current administration’s attempts to control the continuous spread of COVID-19, we also struggle to find the light in this challenging situation. It’s as if we were left in the dark. We cannot pin a clear and concrete effort to induce the public’s confidence on the vaccination in general. We would have hoped for stronger information dissemination and effective communication campaigns to battle the cloud of doubt surrounding vaccination. Not so long ago, the fear of taking a vaccine jab made headlines as the Devangxia controversy tarnished decades-long of efforts of our medical professionals for the people to trust on the positive health outcome and precautionary effects against diseases that a vaccine can bring.

Local Government Units (LGU) Step Up to the Challenge

Many Local Government Units (LGUs) take strive to compensate the deficiencies of the national government. Most of these LGUs started vaccinating in March 2021. In particular, Metro Manila cities held their vaccination programs with priority on the elderly and the frontline workers. For sure, Metro Manila still needs this badly as we witness the worst cases of virus spread in the Philippines’ metropolitan capital. In that regard, we also give credit for the Mayors in their effort to control the situation by vaccinating as many people as possible. On the contrary, nearby provinces in Metro Manila that are equally in dire need for vaccination, seem to lag in their vaccination programs. We do understand that these provinces have limited resources compared to their counterparts in Metro Manila. However, if a stronger support from the national government would be possible, we can avoid this situation wherein the vaccination programs only benefits those who have enough resources.

What can we do for now?

As responsible citizens, we can encourage our own circles on the positive effects of vaccination. Through research and data-backed arguments, we can help build vaccine confidence that will benefit not just those who will take the vaccine, but also the Philippines in general as we aim to attain herd immunity. If possible, we can also volunteer to be the first ones to get vaccinated.

In addition, given that there is a glaring disparity of vaccine rollouts from one LGU to another, the general populace can do something while waiting for their turn to be vaccinated. Aside from building confidence with our families and social circles, we can also encourage them to register for the upcoming elections. The internet is a rich source of information to address the Frequently Asked Questions on how to register while the pandemic is still at its height. Notably, we should remind and emphasize to the first time voters, inactive voters or unregistered persons that the deadline of registration will be on September 30, 2021. There’s more than ample time for us to mobilize our fellow citizens to exercise their right to suffrage.

We must be proactive while waiting for our turn. This pandemic made a clear distinction as to who are the leaders that we can count on. Thus, as the true power of a democratic state, the people must step up and make its leaders accountable for their actions or lack thereof. The only way out of this pandemic is to ensure that the best leaders will be put into power so that we can have a clear glimpse of the possibility of a once again COVID-free world that awaits us soon. For now, we can set our hopes high but we shall remember the leaders’ names as we cast our votes come 2022.

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