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Creative Semantics


BEFORE THE new year would have announced its arrival, the Duterte administration has announced an inconvenient truth couched conveniently in Orwellian garble: the vaccine is here and , sorry, it has turned out the way it did.

It used to be that a word is supposed to mean what it says. Now, it depends on which side you’re on, or who says it.  This latest mumbo jumbo of what looks like ingenious deception is about the use of a Chinese developed vaccine by Sinopharm for the COVID 19 virus.

The semantics didn’t come in the form of Chinese characters which, as the late John F. Kennedy once found out, had the same word for adversity and opportunity.   Context, context.

Let’s count the ways words are being willy-nillymorphed lately in this administration.

For instance, take the word priority.  The British define it to mean the right to precedence or to proceed before others. In other words, minus the stiff upper lip inflection, it means the first on line for whatever.

Under the plan for vaccination, frontline health workers take the first jab of the anti-virus vaccine. The pecking order was not followed, and the truth came from the horse’s mouth: the President himself.

You can’t blame the President, based on the subsequent explanation that is meant to be understood as justification. He was not informed before the fact but after by the head of the Presidential Security Group. Tell it to the Marines.  They have taken a big risk for the President’s health. In another time and place, that’s ground for court martial or some legal liabilities.

It’s not only the PSG which has taken the jab; the Army, too, an unnamed Cabinet member and maybe more, who knows. There were earlier disclosures, not denied nor confirmed, of earlier vaccine shots of some in the high corridors of political power.

It’s perfectly legal, according to Secretary Ed Ano, notwithstanding the statement from Director General Eric Domingo of the FDA that no vaccine of any brand or source has been approved or authorized for public or private use.  The guy is a credible eyewitness; 20/20 vision is his specialty. He should know whereof he speaks. Ergo, the unauthorized inoculations was a violation of law.

It’s legal, Ano stands pat, because the vaccine was acquired without using government money and it came as a form of private donation.  The donor shouldn’t be a no-brainer.  No harm, no foul.  Besides, the donation is of little value that it shouldn’t be considered a violation of the Anti-Graft Practices Act  which prohibits such a practice in government.   And so much about intention which Presidential Spox Harry Roque has added as an afterthought collatilla.

Creative semantics, according George F. Will of the Washington Post, is the key to contemporary government;it consists of talking in strange tongues lest the public learn  the inevitable inconveniently early.

That seems to be the consistent  playbook since the jet ski plan in a journey across the West Philippine Sea was scuttled, no sweat.

At the same that Duterte announced the use of the Chinese vaccine , he threatened to do away with the Visiting Forces Agreement if the United States did not come up with at least 20 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine.  Blackmail, weighed in Sen. Ping Lacson. Nope, rebutted the Palace, it’s an exercise of independence, in foreign policy, that is.

Secretary Francisco Duque who should be on top of the vaccine situation has fessed up to his lack of knowledge about the clandestine shots administered. And he says Duterte continues to trust him because he’s honest.  Maybe not efficient or competent  buthonest.  That can be interpreted to mean he must be making a regular  trip to the confessionary.  Mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.

If this Administration has applied Stephen Covey’s advice to begin with an end in view,  moresemantic aberrations are in the offing.  To be forewarned is to be forearmed.   O what a tangled web we weave when at first we practice to deceived,  wroteSir Walter Scott wrote  long before George Orwell wrote 1948. Practice makes perfect.

Waiting for the traditional New Year’s Message?  BEWARE,  it’s the medium  not  the message.

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