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Duque’s free will or the lack thereof

May 25, 2020 - Monday 4:05 AM by JD Vergara

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Duque could take the most convenient alibi — that he was merely relying on the epidemiologists in calling the current state of the viral crisis a “Second Wave.” But he can’t. The buck stops with him. Besides, being a medical doctor himself and a Cabinet member at that, it is incumbent upon him to at least reflect on such technical designation and weigh its social impact before adhering to it and announcing it publicly. More importantly, he must consult his boss before blurting out anything. As it was, he had to carry the shameful act of owning up to this gargantuan mistake.

?Imagine the horror of those listening to Duque’s legislative testimony. They were like being suddenly awakened to hell by a declarative act. By a simple definitional chess, the entire flavor of the national crisis has changed. And Duque ushered that huge flux as calmly and as detachedly as Zoom could provide. The statement even jolted Senator Franklin Drilon out of his nocturnal domain, suggesting that even in this realm, the vileness of such a statement penetrates.

?If Duque could use his alibi, who would he toss aground as the fall guy? It would be Dr. John Wong, the head of the IATF’s Sub-Technical Working Group on Data Analytics. Dr. Wong is the architect of the Duque fiat. Wong lavishly categorized the first three Covid-19 positives in January as the “First Wave” so that by this simple logic, we are now technically on the “Second Wave” of the viral crisis. But Wong is just too way downstairs in the hierarchical ladder for Duque to exculpate himself. He can’t just pull Wong up as a shield to protect himself.

?But is Dr. Wong’s definitional icing utterly and irredeemably farfetched? Perhaps not. Currently, there is no global standard as to how wave designations of the pandemic can be had. Ecowatch reports that there is “no agreed standard for what constitutes a second wave of an epidemic or pandemic — either at a global or national, regional level.” Technically speaking, Dr. Wong could define terms as he deems fit. However, the same will not be true at Duque’s level. Here, definitional terms are wound up with national interest so that these terms lose some of their technical elements as they mix with national concerns. The one thing you must never do in the current situation is to spike up the contagion of national fear.

?Necessarily, Harry Roque had to uproot the whole of Malacañang as far away as possible from DOH. He had to do it lest Duque’s declarative fiasco become the official stand by default. Now how must Roque override the technical definition of Wong-Duque tag team? For lack of relevant academic credentials to effectively override such expert statement, Roque could only “feel” the error cognitively. But he must override the short circuit and do it fast before the whole nation would be on fire.

?So he likens medicine to law. “Alam niyo po ang medisina, para ring mga abogado `yan, iisa lang ang batas namin, iba-iba ang interpretasyon.” What Wong did with COVID-19 wave definitions Roque did to “medicine-law comparison.” Both attempts suffer the malady of being capricious. To say that like in law, opinions on fever vary from doctor to doctor is downright foolish. While law, by nature, can be susceptible to varying shades of legal appreciations, such may not be the case in medicine. With the latter, cancer is cancer, arthritis is arthritis, and such designations must not change depending upon current overriding opinions. Otherwise, the whole health industrial complex would collapse.

?A law may swing from left to right in its interpretation depending upon the play of votes in the Supreme Court. Such is the nature of judicial interpretation. Such oscillation is also beneficial in that a law may accommodate novel situations which may not have been within the contemplation of the legislature when the law was crafted. This is true with our Constitution which, according to the late Supreme Court justice Isagani Cruz, must remain “malleable” to address legal problems that have not been contemplated by the framers. In this manner we avoid “overheating” the need for constitutional amendments.

?Being a lawyer himself, Harry Roque knew all these. Why did he say it? Perhaps Harry had to juggle the need for Malacañang to “social distance” from Duque but at the same time not do it in a disrespectful way because ultimately, a bad DOH is a bad Malacañang. And he had to juggle fast to calm the spreading fear and confusion and of course, to usher Drilon calmly back to his dream land. But the end result however is a duplication of Dr. Wong’s error. Well, as the song goes, “I’m only human, born to make mistakes.” Now people may think, there might be merit to that previous call for Duque’s resignation.