OPINION | It’s time to stop using the resilience and bravery of Filipinos as a convenient excuse for every government failure

In his Independence Day message, President Rodrigo Duterte encouraged Filipinos to exude the same bravery the country’s heroes have shown in defending the nation’s freedom as the Philippines continue to struggle in containing the spread of the contagious coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

“As we wage a united battle against COVID-19, we now have the opportunity to demonstrate that we possess the same gallantry of spirit and the nobility of character as the heroes of our past,” Duterte, who once again skipped the Independence Day rites at Rizal Park in Manila, an event he hasn’t attended to since he was elected president of the Philippines.

“Let us now move forward with courage, hope, and optimism as we overcome this pandemic,” he added in his taped address.

The Philippines, however, which was named as one of the most dangerous countries to be in during the COVID-19 pandemic and now nearing more than 25,000 coronavirus infections needs more than just the repeated romanticization of the nation’s struggles — what the country needs are concrete plans, and not incompetent leaders hiding behind the resiliency of the citizens.

Long before the coronavirus outbreak struck the Philippines, resiliency, a trait that’s engraved to most Filipinos who have no choice but to overcome struggles themselves with little help from the government, has been a common band aid solution for those in position.

The people of war-struck Marawi were lauded because of their bravery and resiliency. Three years after the war, the destroyed city is yet to see significant changes from the government’s slowly-implemented rehabilitation plan.

Thirty-three-year-old Michelle Silvertino had resiliency, before she faced her own untimely death on an underpass in Pasay City after she waited for a bus ride home to her province for five days.

The face of resiliency, the so-called ‘bagong bayani,’ the overseas Filipino workers had to sleep on cold concrete within the vicinity of the airport as they waited for the aid of the government to bring them to their provinces amid the COVID-19 scare.

Resiliency is among the many things the country’s medical frontliners cling to, as they risk their own lives to attend to coronavirus patients, only to receive delayed and insufficient compensation from the government.

Three months into quarantine and the Philippines has yet to “flatten the curve” of COVID-19 infections. While resiliency is considered as a commendable Filipino characteristic, unfortunately, it’s all for naught in a country with misplaced priorities.

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