About a month ago, I came across a report that said Covid-19 originated from the United States when about 300 athletes from the US Armed Forces participated in the Military World Games held in Wuhan, China in October 2019. The multi-sport games have been taking place every four years since 1995.
I paid no mind to the report as my immediate reaction was one of skepticism — to ward off criticism about China being the source of the virus.
But the report took a different turn after the official spokesman of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Zhao Lijian, republished in his Twitter account a video of Robert Redfield, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, addressing a US congressional committee on March 11.
Redfield said in the video clip that some influenza deaths in the US were later identified as cases of Covid-19.
“When did patient zero begin in US? How many people are infected? What are the names of the hospitals? It might be [the] US Army who brought the epidemic to Wuhan. Be transparent! Make public your data! US owe us an explanation!” Zhao said.
In response to Zhao’s tweet, the US State Department summoned China’s Ambassador in Washington Cui Tiankai and gave him “stern representation.”
“China is seeking to deflect criticism for its role in starting a global pandemic and not telling the world… We wanted to put the [Chinese] government on notice we won’t tolerate it,” a State Department official said.
The world is way past the blame game stage for the ongoing pandemic. Perhaps it would be best to heed the words of Zhao’s fellow Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang who said, “China always considers this a scientific question, which should be addressed in a scientific and professional manner.”
Assistance from China and Russia
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hua Chunying has just announced that Chinese State Councilor Wang Yi already conveyed to Foreign Secretary Teodoro “Tweeterboy” Locsin Jr. that China will be sending medical supplies and health experts to the Philippines to help combat the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).
“We feel the same as the Philippine people [who] are going through difficult times. We will do our utmost to help… Medical supplies and experts will soon go to the Philippines,” Hua said.)
On the other hand, Russian Ambassador to the Philippines Igor Khovaev said Russia’s Polysan Scientific and Technological Pharmaceutical Company would lend “a helping hand to our Filipino partners” by donating the drug Cycloferon.
Cycloferon has reportedly been effective in treating Covid-19 patients in Russia and China.
Meanwhile, the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry Inc. (FFCCCII), composed of 11 Chinese-Filipino groups, has pledged P100 million worth of medical supplies to the Department of Health to help prevent the spread of Covid-19.
“We are deeply concerned by the continuing spread of this disease that has claimed thousands of lives around the world and has made a big impact on the global economy,” FFCCCII President Henry Lim Bon Liong told reporters in a press conference at the Kamuning Bakery in Quezon City last Friday.
Liong added that FFCCCII had coordinated with the Chinese Embassy to ask for additional emergency medical supplies, including medical doctors and experts in handling Covid-19.
Would it be far-fetched to say that the Makati-based Philippine-American Chamber of Commerce or the Federation of Philippine American Chambers of Commerce Inc. may not be far behind?
US offered to help Iran
Last week, CNN reported that Iran had rejected US President Donald Trump’s apparent offer to help fight Covid-19, saying, “We have the greatest doctors in the world. We offer Iran assistance.”
Iran has the third largest number of people affected by Covid-19, after China and Italy.
According to CNN, Iran Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi dismissed the offer as “hypocritical” and “repulsive” and accused the US of “economic and medical terrorism.” The US has imposed sanctions against Iran.
“Instead of hypocritical displays of compassion and repulsive bragging, you should end your economic and medical terrorism so that medicine and medical supplies can reach medical staff and the Iranian people,” Mousavi said.
Not to be “outbragged,” Mousavi added: “We do not need American doctors… Iran has the best, bravest and most competent medical staff in the world.”
Senate Resolution 337
Rumors are rife that Sen. Vicente Sotto 3rd’s job as Senate president is in peril after he initiated the resolution asking the Supreme Court for a ruling on President Digong’s unilateral termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement with the US.
President Digong said he could not be compelled by the high tribunal and would stand by his decision to terminate the military pact with the US.
“They cannot compel me. I refuse to be compelled. I have terminated it, tapos ang problema ko,” he said.
Sotto, on the other hand, vowed to uphold the Senate’s independence.
“You can replace me anytime,” he said.
He just may get his wish.
Already, a campaign to oust him appears to have started with the revival in the social media of the Pepsi Paloma case of long ago with which he was linked.
Those who voted for Senate Resolution 337 asking the Supreme Court to rule on the constitutionality of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s (aka Digong) unilateral termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the United States at least showed some conviction on their part. If they lose, no one can claim that they hedged their bet.
Although the resolution was asking the high tribunal to rule on the constitutionality of Digong’s action, the bottom line is that those who were for Resolution 337 really are against the abrogation of the VFA. They didn’t have to say that. Everyone knows. They want to be on the good side of the US.
On the other hand, the abstainers were presumably for the termination of the VFA, but did not have the gumption to vote against the resolution. And they are supposed to be allies of Digong!
So, why did they hedge their bet? Is it because they do not want to be on the bad side of the US in case the Supreme Court rules in favor of the Senate resolution and the VFA abrogation is retracted?
National pride and dignity
The Philippine Star news report simply said that the “Duterte administration lifted the ban on aid negotiations between the Philippines and countries that supported a UN Human Rights Council resolution that mandated an examination of the country’s human rights situation.”
Although Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez 3rd referred to it as a “presidential directive,” he did not attribute it directly to the President.
No matter. But there goes that mendicant mentality again that I referred to in my last column.
To begin with, does anyone think that if the US were to decide to stop aid and grants to the Philippines on account of the VFA abrogation that it will definitely stop there?
Personally, I would not discount the possibility that the US will try to influence other states to make it difficult for us to fill the financial gap to be left by it.
But even assuming that the US doesn’t resort to that, we should let those countries which voted for the Irish resolution in the Human Rights Council do it of their own volition. Let them initiate the move. It is enough that they now know we would no longer be averse to negotiating with them.
There’s something called national pride and dignity!
In fact, the gap that may be left by the US can easily be filled through our own resources. The humongous and horrendous “pork barrel” of our honorable senators and congressmen alone should be more than enough to fill the gap, not to mention the resources lost through corruption in several government agencies, which Digong appears unable to stop. (ia/sovereignph.com)