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Daily dose

How the novel coronavirus outbreak gave birth to #OustDuterte

A lot has happened in the past month since the world learned of the 2019 novel coronavirus that started an outbreak in the city of Wuhan in China’s Hubei province. As of this writing, figures from the WHO are as follows:

Globally
11953 confirmed (2128 new)
China
11821 confirmed (2102 new)
1795 severe (268 new)
259 deaths (46 new)
Outside of China
132 confirmed (26 new)
23 countries (4 new)

Novel Coronavirus(2019-nCoV) Situation Report – 12 as of Feb 1, 2020

In the Philippines, the numbers from the Department of Health as summarized below:

DOH tracker of novel coronavirus cases in the Philippines

The first fatality in the Philippines also earned the distinction as the first one outside of China: 44-year old male who was the companion of the first patient, 38-year old female to have tested positive for the novel coronavirus. Both were tourists from Wuhan arriving at Cebu via Cebu Pacific flight 5J 241 (Hong Kong-Cebu) and DG 6519 (Cebu-Dumaguete) last Jan. 21, 2020. From Cebu, they then took a flight to Manila on January 25, 2020 via Philippine Airlines. Both airlines have pulled out the actual planes boarded by the tourists for disinfection and have had their cabin crews and pilots screened for the the coronavirus. They are also working with health authorities in tracking down and contacting the other passengers who sat nearby the two tourists.

For some measure of relief, 24 persons under investigation have tested negative for the novel coronavirus.

On January 31, the WHO declared the outbreak a public health emergency of international concern. In response, neighboring countries like Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, Mongolia and Russia have declared travel restrictions on passengers from China. Meanwhile, here in the Philippines, all the government did was declare a travel restriction only to passengers coming form Hubei province where the epicenter of the of outbreak is. This slow response and deference to ‘avoiding the ire of Beijing‘ sparked public outrage that made #OustDuterte a top trending topic on Twitter.

Which was no surprise considering that on that same day, still active Presidential-aide turned Senator Christopher Go stated that President Duterte would meet have a meeting with heath experts and government officials to deal with the outbreak NEXT WEEK! Adding insult to injury, Presidential Spokesperson followed up with a statement that for Duterte, “weekends are sacred” and that he “likes to sleep long.

The response of the administration’s supporters was not totally unexpected: the deployment of online trolls and bot farms with a different, albeit hypocritical narrative: an appeal for sympathy for our Chinese brethren and that a travel ban smacks of racism:

Be careful with sharing the sob stories you read surrounding current events. Some of them are fake/propaganda…

Posted by Martin Luke Lastrilla Patiño on Friday, January 31, 2020

This quickly backfired as netizens used the troll’s message as a template to further mock and throw shade against the administration:

I'm sad. We have Chinese neighbors sa condo, and just now may nakasabay kaming babae (Chinese) with 2 kids. Ang sabi nya…

Posted by Rafael Antonio Anton Dulce on Saturday, February 1, 2020

There are a lot more of these and quite sure you’ve seen either type or both on your newsfeed. The key takeaway is this, at the very least the Duterte administration is sensitive to public opinion.

Categories
Daily dose

Volcano 101: Phreatic eruption in Filipino

Nagiging aktibo ang bulkan kapag ang magma ay umaangat mula sa ilalim ng lupa. Sa pag-angat at pagtama ng magma sa water table o bahagi ng lupa kung saan naipon ang tubig sa loob ng bulkan, lumililkha ito ng steam o water vapor na kumakawala palabas sa bunganga ng bulkan o iba pang biyak sa ibabaw ng lupa.

Sa sobrang bilis ng pagdami ng water vapor, naiipon ito sa loob ng bulkan hanggang sa ito ay sumabog. Sa sobrang lakas ng pagsabog, ang mga bato ay nagiging abo na ibinubuga sa kalangitan. Ang magkahalong steam, abo at maliliit na bato ang siyang dinadala ng hangin sa ibang lugar.

Kung ang bulkan ay magbubuga ng steam at magma ito ay tinatawag na Phreatomagmatic eruption.

Categories
Daily dose

Would Congress act fast enough to allow bike-hailing services?

#Savemotortaxi should now be the the new battle cry for the commuting public instead of just #SaveAngkas as the LTFRB’s Technical Working Group has recently announced that once their pilot study ends, the provisional permits for bike-hailing services like Angkas, JoyRide and Move It will end as well. It means after March 23, 2020, no more motorcycle taxis. Well, the ones you can book via an app that is. The only option left for commuters would be habal-habal, its illegal version.

Unless of course, Congress moves fast enough to amend Republic Act No. 4136 to legalize the bike-for-hire services, commuters would have to find other solutions to the terrible and worsening traffic situation in Metro Manila on their own.

At the moment legislation that legalizes motorycle taxis pending in Congress are as follows: HB 8959 which was passed by the Lower House last February 4, 2019 and is now pending with the Senate; Senate Bills: SBN-50, SBN-128, SBN-409 and SBN-1025.

Maybe the recent ruckus between Angkas and the LTFRB will be enough to get Congress’ attention to finally act on those pending bills.

Categories
Opinion

Peace talks in the Philippines: It’s a trap!

In a last-ditch effort, seemingly out of desperation as it’s just two years in power, to end the longest running insurgency in Asia the Duterte administration has offered to resume peace talks with the CPP-NPA-NDFP. While it is without question that peace talks are the best way to end the fighting, the offer reeks of insincerity. Given what the government has done since the last rounds of the peace talks were terminated November last year, the communist rebels are right to reject the condition that it be done here in the Philippines.

Admiral Ackbar - It's a trap

Why is this offer of resuming the peace talks suspicious:

  • EO No 70 is still in effect this needs to be withdrawn first.
  • The red-tagging campaign against legitimate dissent, critics, activists and progressive peoples’ organizations is still ongoing.
  • Consultants of the NDFP that have been arrested on trumped up charges and despite the JASIG are still in jail.
  • The administration has firm control of the courts – there’s no shortage of judges willing to issue warrants of search and arrest on very questionable reasoning at the request of the police and military.

On these critical observations the writings on the wall are clear: the spider has invited the fly to his parlor. Until the government drops the pre-conditions to holding peace talks, the rebels will not come to the negotiating table. So the fighting will continue, not solely because the peace talks will not resume, but as long as the current conditions that have bred the rebellion continue to exist.