of Pres. Rodrigo R. Duterte should go all-out to vaccinate the Filipino population. It should be easy
for these old men to figure
out. Investors pour their
billions to countries with
Our local entrepreneurs
can return to business as
usual. Our unemployed
will have work. Consumers can shop freely again.
Successful vaccination programs ensure faster economic recovery and thus faster return of investments. But
our best leaders of the solar system missed the point. They
stress Cha-cha and infrastructure to attract investors.
Leaders in Cebu think and act different. Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella formed a vaccine task force even as
other mayors of key cities announced having ordered AstraZeneca vaccines. While Councilor Raymond Garcia touts
about an allocation of P400 million for buying vaccines, Labella says he prefers the American-made vaccines. I am not
sure if Cebu City has the high-tech refrigeration machines
these vaccines needed. Whatever the bytes from Cebu City
Hall, we sense a lack of urgency. At least, daghan pa man ta.
Gov. Gwen Garcia, on the other hand, believes involving the
province in the race to get vaccines now would be ‘premature.’ While I failed to grasp the logic, the governor proceeds
to carry out her other priorities.
Impact of Biden’s presidency
The United States will initially focus on climbing out
of the pandemic wormhole that the outgoing Pres. Donald
Trump pushed the country into. Nonetheless, I also expect
the incoming administration of Pres. Joe Biden to also reassess it policies towards allies like the Philippines. A vital
American concern involves President Duterte’s crude dance
Frankly, President Duterte’s unprovoked remark about
scrapping the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) if the United States would not give the country vaccines worried me.
I am not privy to the behind-the-scenes context of the remark. But the undiplomatic aside looked like a bid to scuttle
whatever help we can hope from a Biden presidency and favor China’s Sinovac. On the other hand, Duterte has intensified efforts to push US concerns like strongly going after
the Left and opening the economy several notches higher.
Duterte wants to show the Americans he can deliver these,
not Vice President Leni Robredo.
Will these seemingly contradictory moves make a Biden
presidency stop from intervening with Philippine politics?
Hmmm. Short of a political rupture early this year, I am
speculating that the 2022 presidential election will be a contest between American and Chinese-backed bets.
(Emmanuel ‘Anol’ Mongaya is co-founder and director for
strategic PR of the Cebu-based PRWorks Inc. He is also a
member of the Political Officers League of the Philippines
(POLPhil). Contact him @anol_cebu in Twitter)