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Sona and statistics

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A few days after President Duterte delivered his fifth state-of-the-nation address, one that most people believed was wide off the mark as far as the  pre- SONA official hype  was concerned, something  off-the-chart  happened in the war against COVID 19.

No, Virginia, the curve hasn’t been flattened yet, because the jury is still out as to what really the curve is. What’s obvious is that some spines in and outside of the Cabinet are as flat as can be.Somebody in that realm of the best and the brightest  has yet to  stand up to the bully, whether he’s in town or across the  South China Sea.

The emerging picture is both incredible and unsettling. On one hand, it’s calamitous; on the other, it’s miraculous. On Thursday, a single-day  record of nearly 4,000 new cases was marked. On the same day, about 38,000 patients recovered, kuno.

Apparently, those on the warfront have turned the tide of  the war in their favor.   Or so it seems. We’ve done it, apart from beating China’s record COVID  cases of 84,000 more or less. No country in the world has achieved such a feat in terms of rescuing  thousands of COVID 19 victims from  tragic fate.  And overtaking China, somehow.

But the no. 1 cheerleader of the national team racing to beat the invisible virus is in no mood for clapping, cheering and congratulating.Like it did when it came out chest-thumping after it allegedly defeated a group of experts from the University of the Philippines in its projections for July.

It turned out he spoke too soon after COVID cases reached more than 85,000 before the month ended. He and his big mouth, he later apologized.

Some, like Joel Villanueva and Chiz Escudero, have their doubts. The numbers don’t make sense, like a lot of  things in this country, even from just the point of view of who should handle as serious a problem as  the existential  viral infection crisis.

On Friday morning, for instance,  Duterte made it clear that , if and when a COVID 19 vaccine will be available, it’s the military , not the health department, which will  farm it out  to the poor and other qualified citizens. Sorry, drugs pushers and addicts  cannot avail of it because dogs don’t need the vaccine.   Of course,  Hail  China has put its  new province this side of the globe  on its  vaccine priority list, tse-tse.

Joel and Chiz didn’t categorically say some people are lying;  they did accuse the source of the statistics of fooling the people.  Maybe it’s not lying or fooling, just humoring the rest of the country to feel good after a big letdown of a boring, soporific  performance. Exhibit A: dyed-in- the-wool Duts rah-rah boys in dreamland while he struggled with his lines.

There’s a connection between a lie and story, the American novelist John Steibeck, once said.  The difference is that, he said, a story utilizes the trappings and apperance of truth for the listeners as well as for the teller. “But a lie is a device for profit or escape”.  Or probably both, we may hasten to speculate.

Come to think of it, the mind-boggling statistics suddenly blew as away after an audit of the funds for the war on COVID was pushed by no less than the Senate.  There’s a rising dissonance and  disconnect between the  version of truth by the provider and that  of the supposed beneficiaries of the Bayanihan Law. You can’t blame the fearless actress Agot Isidro for lampooning it as Heal as Wang.

Statistics are like a bikini, whoever thought of that. What they reveal is interesting, what they hide is vital. Let’s see how the proposed investigation will bare naked before the public eye.  So far, what’s interesting is that accusations are flying thick and fast  on alleged overpricing of COVID 19 supplies and anomalous advances to hospitals by PHILHEALTH.                   

In the time of COVID, there seems to be kupit as well.  Or as one wag puts it, opportunity in adversity.

What numbers will pop out in the coming days is anybody’s guess as the pandemic appears largely as a guessing game. But a famous star of bygone days, a  kindred soul of Chiz Escudero in the land of the perfect cone,  once spielled in a movie: “walang himala”.

So that’s it folks, we may have to  live  with statistics and possibly, lies, for a long time to come (2 years?). And bear it.

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