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Bacolod City, Philippines Friday, October 16, 2020
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OPINIONS

A People Power model

Ninfa Leonardia

The Philippines started it all. Remember? It was our country that initiated changes and reforms in government through its initiative of “People Power”, probably the only bloodless revolution ever held by oppressed people. Those of us who were already of age when it happened, will never forget how we did it, how we drove off a dictator who mocked our longing for a truly democratic country. Until now, we must all hope and pray that such kind of governance will never happen to us again.

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All that came to mind yesterday when I saw on TV what appeared to be another version of People Power in Thailand. And what are they hoping to achieve? Like us, they, too, are longing for a democratic government. How they must envy those of us, a small country with gutsy people, who were able to kick out dictators and live the lives of the free. Remember how our dictator had to flee when it was clear that his reign was over? And he was lucky to escape on time, nobody knows what could have happened to him and his family, had the mob caught them still in the presidential palace!

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As of this writing, I do not know yet the latest developments from Thailand but it must have been a terrible experience for the queen and a prince whose motorcade was blocked by the rioters. I guess they did not dare to harm them, not being involved in their government decisions. But the government has already started arresting rioters, and we cannot foresee what that will lead up to. Indeed, it is a troubled world we are living in now, with such problems further worsened by this incomprehensible COVID.

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It was not only alarming, but also shocking to hear that 50,000 new cases are recorded daily of COVID victims in the U.S. The report did not mention the mortality rate, but it must be quite big, especially because their own president is leading by bad example in not wearing the very simple protection of masks. Does he think he is now immune from the disease, having gone through it once? Doesn’t he listen to warnings about the possibility of relapses? Well, it is his own life, but what if he gets reelected? Maybe he wants to die while in office and have a grand state funeral!

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Meanwhile, even if we are not Americans, nor are we in contact with the man I like to call the COVID “guru”, Dr. Anthony Fauci, I think it will do us a lot of good to listen to him. His latest advice is for people to make what he calls a “holiday sacrifice” and I believe he means that we avoid celebrations connected with this month of October. In the United states, this is time for holiday celebrations and sometimes raucous parties, but with this era of COVID, I hope people all over the world will be more prudent. Especially if they hear the reports that this virus can fly around for several hours and does not choose whom it may hit.

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While other workers, both in the government and in companies are wailing about their 13 th month pay, there is another group of citizens who are suffering from hunger and want because they are jobless. Philippines statistics give the numbers of the latter at some 9.5 million, most of them those who were holding only temporary jobs before. How does our government address such problem? Can it sustain cash hand-outs as long as this pandemic keeps on? This is a big problem, as we may not only come to a jobless population but also a bankrupt economy.

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It was good news that the Department of Social Welfare and Development and the Department of Social Services and Development in Bacolod have earmarked P10 million to be distributed to families in the city affected by the coronavirus pandemic. However, will that amount be sufficient? Cases are increasing by the day and, personally, I wish that the distribution should be in kind, rather than in cash. Say, the families identified with COVID patients should be supplied with medicines rather than handed out cash. Anyway, I am sure those in charge will religiously follow up the beneficiaries and ensure that the amount does not go to other needs.

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Even if I grumble sometimes about my almost eight months of quarantine, I must admit there are also benefits from it, particularly in finding out how loving and thoughtful your friends are. Sometimes I am afraid I will grow fat with all the goodies they send me, but who cares? Their love and concern are what I will never forget, and I pray for them everyday. I dare not mention their names but they should know how grateful I am and how much they inspire me. I also hope they pray for our DAILY STAR which is in truly dire straits now. Thank you all, and May God Bless you!*

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