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Fighting an unseen enemy




echf ecf JOHNNY DAYANG echoes

NO one saw it coming, not even countries with the most advanced health systems.

What started as a menace that struck China, the COVID-19 infection has spread worldwide and by now has affected 197 countries, including the Philippines, and an international conveyance, the cruise ship Diamond Princess.

A WHO update as of March 25, said the Philippines had a total of 552 registered COVID-19 cases, 35 deaths, and 20 recoveries. This translates to five cases per million population, while deaths stand at 0.2% per million.

The repercussions that come with fighting an unseen enemy like COVID-19 surely impact on the country’s growth. Various predictions have been offered but the most unsettling that has surfaced is the fear of economic recession. When that happens, growth targets take a spin.

Experts explain that recession affects the country’s gross national product and occurs only after negative growth is recorded in two successive quarters. Its coverage scope encompasses trade and industrial engagements, among others. Excluded from computation are incomes earned abroad, which contribute to our economic stability in terms of dollar reserves.

The present health crisis, an economist said, can translate to trillion-peso income loss for the state, roughly a third of the national budget. If computed, the resultant deficit, which include job losses, closure of companies, loss of productivity, and tax and revenue reduction, means an increase in foreign debts and slowdown in economic expansion.

There is also another unseen enemy, however, which President Rodrigo Duterte wages a war against – the continuing corruption in the bureaucracy. Under the present condition, the challenge to shoot down crooked officials has become a disengaging fact. Even the national leadership has expressed apprehension the R275-billion emergency approved by Congress, unless stringent monitoring is done, can be exploited by creative manipulators.

No matter how grim the prospects, Filipinos still deserve credit for their resiliency in surviving the toughest odds. For where in the world can travellers see people smiling amidst tragedies happening around them? Only in the Philippines. That sounds inspiring, but it too creates misimpressions.

In truth, the greatest enemy we must face is our reluctance to expose those who make our lives hard during emergencies. When we continue to defy lawful orders in times of crisis, the enemy will likely gain grounds. Truly, we need prayers to deal with COVID-19, and resolve in exposing corruption around us.