The global pandemic’s impact to the Philippine epidemic

I live a kilometer away from a gun range, where folks go to practice shooting and purchase firearms & ammo. During this Covid-19 pandemic, sales of “non-essential” goods such as booze and firearms are skyrocketing, with alcohol demand up by more than 50% vs last year and the stock prices of munitions companies outpacing the capital markets. Toilet paper, essentially a non-essential item for Filipinos, are in short supply in the USA (check the curious Facebook posts how to use the “tabo”), which psychologists and economists alike are struggling to explain with science.

The 2nd Amendment guarantees the right of the people to keep and bear arms, and is a fundamental right unique to only two other countries.  It has also been a safety net during times of crises for a significant segment of the American population, leading to the current shortage of munitions supply.  Whether the law is apt or not is a different matter, but as long as it is guaranteed by the US Constitution, people have the option to exercise this right.

Citizens also have the right to make irrational decisions, such as overstocking with firearms, booze and toilet paper, but must face consequences if they violate the law. Likewise, prime ministers, presidents and heads of state are also allowed to make irrational decisions, such as the Swedish and Brazilian governments who so far have refused to order a lockdown. It is the people who placed them in power, and it is the people who will bear the consequences of these decisions.

Regardless whether leaders and citizens are behaving rationally or irrationally, nations under a constitutional society share a common trait: leaders are granted finite powers to exercise, and its citizens are required to abide the law or face the consequences.

The Philippines has a unique leader amongst the civilized nations. Article 3 of the Philippine Constitution’s Bill of Rights guarantees that “No person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law….” And yet President Duterte continues to flaunt his machismo-style leadership: shoot-from-the-hip, act with bravado, disregard human rights.

His latest warning to the starving and jobless masses: “shoot them dead” and “if you get detained, bahala kayo sa pagkain ninyo.” The latest in a string of lawless statements is a reflection of an almost-incurable epidemic: Filipino leaders unfit for the role elected out of popularity – from Marcos, Estrada, Arroyo, and if Duterte could help it, soon to be Pacquiao in 2022.

The sacredness of the Philippine Constitution has been under threat for almost 4 years now, and will only continue to be weakened if that most basic right is taken away: the right to life.

The masses are already desperate to climb out of a sub-standard state of living even before the pandemic. Arrest them, detain them, and let the law run its course while they fight for their families. Unless the Constitution has been suspended, the Bill of Rights still guarantees due process even in the midst of a crisis.

Stupidity could be forgiven, but brazen lawlessness is a different matter. So the president could pull the trigger or starve anyone violating the lockdown, and ironically in the process also protect allies such as the senator who placed medical frontliners at risk…. and perhaps Filipinos will finally wake up.

Life is sacred, and nothing could be fundamentally more basic than the right-to-live.

Let the global pandemic be a catalyst in eliminating the epidemic led by the Lawless Leader.

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