PH learning slower than neighbors in pandemic

> We need a real talent selection process in management and decision systems.
> Public-private coordination, consultation, is needed.
> Filipinos only quote the West, the world is multipolar now, with Asean, Asia, just beside us and doing better.
> Let’s concentrate on helping our countrymen and humanity.

PH learning slower than neighbors in pandemic
Integrated Development Studies Institute (IDSI)
April 12, 2021

Some disasters can be avoided; others are beyond our current powers to avoid. We can, however, always keep learning how to deal with them. The Philippines has a notoriously weak ability to systematize learning (except for agencies such as the Department of Finance and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, which for decades now, have kept the country in good standing), but never a better time to start than immediately.

ECQ or enhanced community quarantine is just an emergency process, a band-aid, and each new wave of crisis will bring its new variations that we can, even now, anticipate how to deal with in the future. What do we need to be aware of, and what are some practical systemic processes we can start applying?

The current wave in the Philippines, to be fair, is not just a product of the usual mismanagement. The behavior and transmissibility of Covid-19 have not only exploded the infections in the country but even among disciplined societies like Germany and Japan. Even some parts of the United States are seeing a surge in cases. This means our ability to adapt must be developed but not just through current health and safety protocols.

Naturally, some countries where society engages in mass religious and social activities as well as oppose the use of scientific quarantining will suffer higher rates. On the other hand, our Asian neighbors like Singapore, Vietnam, China have practically beaten the virus domestically and are on robust regrowth. A Filipino favorite to avoid is politics and news without verification logic, despite inherent stupidity and fake news, plus useless emotional distractions.

Continuing challenges

We need a real talent selection process in management and decision systems. Medical input is but one factor in the decisions. Execution skills are also crucial. From the beginning, in terms of understanding the mathematics of pandemics or compounding it, the Department of Health (DoH) did not have a group of people who understood the communication requirements and who lacked the skills to monitor and execute measures to combat Covid-19.

Plans to send people home to their home provinces without ensuring that they were virus-free and corralling them in crowded venues are manifestations. We cannot win the war if we don’t even have a real-time map of how the enemy is evolving. Most hotspots in local government units continue to be weak in commitment and application.

Public-private coordination, consultation, is needed. The private sector offered a tripartite agreement to help augment the government’s vaccine procurement efforts, not to compete as some sectors attempted to portray, as Senators Vicente Sotto 3rd, Imee Marcos and Franklin Drilon, among others also pointed out. The incomprehensible delays in plans of the DoH and criteria in approving and acquiring vaccines has set back our country’s recovery and caused much suffering.

Forming the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases was a good brain trust, but not enough and actual donations really helped ramp up PCR testing. Pandemic quarantine implementation on the ground was terrible for a long time, no one was really taking charge for most of the country. The entry of logistics-savvy companies now will help, but why were they not part of the consultation earlier?

Data collation and monitoring were very poor, but now is our chance to catch up. The data did start flowing in, but they came two weeks to a month late from infection date. For months, they were inaccessible and unreliable. It is time to apply and use the national ID system or equivalent, but this surely will be a political flashpoint again.

Filipinos only quote the West, the world is multipolar now, with Asean, Asia, just beside us and doing better. Our agencies put near total control of our decisions on the lines of major Western pharmaceuticals. These pharmas will not consider low-profit alternatives, with many of their reports ignoring Russian and Chinese vaccines and assistance, or other options that deserve attention. As Rep. Mike Defensor said, why not examine more expeditiously and try them if risk is almost nonexistent and there appears potential benefit? Western analysts and Philippine fake-news peddlers and opposition media have demonized the Chinese vaccines, but these vaccines were the first ones to be administered to our frontliners, who are doing fine. Both in terms of the pandemic and economics, Asia is outperforming the West, and catching up also in systems and technologies. There is no reason not to learn from everyone.

The future is today, but is it for the Filipino? We must be planning and executing already for new tech and education needs. Our achievement levels are bottom of the world, our curriculums of questionable value, delivery systems primitive. Yet we claim to be an IT-savvy country. In fact, most of the improvements are due again to Chinese providers like Huawei and FiberHomes supporting our telcos. Together, they improved access some 50 percent or more already within the last two years, including training Filipino engineers and accelerating installations that we could not even remotely put up as fast, although we can still cut local red tape. New laws are being passed, with Rep. Paul Daza pushing for easier installation approvals. Filipino app startups are beginning to gain international investment attention, several from Xavier School groups and friends.

Build, Build, Build is timely. It has promoted continued growth in the economy amid recession in many areas, allowed movement of homes and professions to the provinces and heralded return of tourism booms (if we can enforce the travel and health protocols).

Fake news and warmongers, stay away. We are here to build the country, but those countries that hoarded all the vaccines are warning those who are helping us. They are claiming fake Chinese data when China, Taiwan, Vietnam and Singapore have shown that they have dealt with Covid-19 excellently while the US has grossly mismanaged its own.

Many practical action plans are available and worth actual study and attention than the fishing vessels parked in the Julian Felipe (Whitsun) Reef in the West Philippine Sea. Those vessels have actually been there for decades and were just recently raised to provoke and distract us. Will 1Sambayan’s Antonio Carpio and Albert del Rosario and the opposition put aside fake news and provocations for now (Were they able to help in our pandemic beyond criticizing; how much?) while our front liners and the economy are being helped so much by China. The US did not send any assistance and blocked help to any country, even NATO allies, while China sent aid to more than 65 countries… even while the majority of its population was not yet fully vaccinated.

Let’s concentrate on helping our countrymen and humanity.

New Worlds by IDSI (Integrated Development Studies Institute) aims to present frameworks based on a balance of economic theory, historical realities, ground success in real business and communities and attempt for common good, culture and spirituality. We welcome logical feedback and possibly working together with compatible frameworks (

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