It’s almost like dialogue straight out of the movie Airplane!
COVID “experts”: Let’s just move on, this demand for accountability will get us nowhere.
Normal people: “No accountability,” what’s that?
COVID “experts”: It’s when people do or say anything without consequences, but that’s not important right now.
Laughable, perhaps. But essentially what Emily Oster wrote in her Atlantic piece (“Let’s declare a pandemic amnesty,” October 2022), calling for people to move on and forget the relentless demands to mask up, vaccinate, and be locked down. Needless to say, her article generated an outrage firestorm.
Forgive and forget? COVID tyrants shrieked in a deranged manner: “just put the damn mask on!,” “stay home, save lives!,” “buhay muna bago negosyo (life before business),” “do you want to kill others,” and “don’t be selfish!” They demanded mandatory vaccination, locked-up children at home or forced them to sit at their desks fully masked, and (worse of all) prohibited people from visiting family members or even to bury their dead — only to see doctors and nurses dancing on TikTok — for two freakin’ years and we’re now supposed to act as if nothing happened?
Include among those that wanted people to be deprived of their rights those members of the clergy who simply forgot what courage is and let their faithful be lost for years on end.
These are the “Catholic authorities and experts who followed those in the government and the media who now say ‘we didn’t know’ — but who at the time were obviously silencing discussion (let alone criticism).
“These Catholics insisted on following calls to mask and vaccinate, using religious authority, theological arguments, and the virtue of obedience to harm persons, families, and consciences.
“This group includes various bishops’ conferences, bishops, vicar generals, pastors, parish administrators, theologians, and ethicists, not to mention random pundits, columnists, and podcasters. Many are left-leaning, politically.” They all “abdicated their duty to defend personal autonomy and bodily integrity, as well as justice and right reason.” (“No COVID amnesty for bishops, theologians, et al., either,” Leila Lawler, https://happydespitethem.blogspot.com/2022/11/no-covid-amnesty-for-bishops.html, November 2022)
All simply because they let fear get the better of them, knew it, and thus wanted everyone to join in their misery, these COVID tyrants insisted that those wanting to decide for themselves about their own health should lose their jobs, see their children deprived of an education, be either trapped in their own homes or forcibly removed from it, threatened even with starvation (unbelievably, there was this insane suggestion to not let the unvaccinated enter groceries), be deprived of the sacraments and personal spiritual consolation. To lose any and all constitutional rights.
In short: it was demanded people be punished simply for not being scared of a virus with a 99% survival rate and for using their brains.
Ah, but people like Ms. Oster would say: “In the face of so much uncertainty, getting something right had a hefty element of luck. And, similarly, getting something wrong wasn’t a moral failing.”
Not really. And, yes it is.
Precisely because things were so uncertain, particularly in 2020 and 2021 (regarding lockdowns, masks, and vaccines), it was all the more important that each person be allowed to take responsibility for his or her own health. The fact that those terrified of COVID, many narcissistically so, would bully others when they themselves knew next to nothing about it, is the true act of selfishness. And of being utterly unthinking.
A variation of the COVID defense would argue: “But we didn’t know. Nobody knew then.” But we knew that people didn’t know. We knew then that science could change when more facts came in. And yet, even without waiting for studies, common sense and history already told us that lockdowns and mandatory public masking didn’t work, that they have never been employed in such massive scale effectively. Common sense and history also told us to be wary of a drug that did not exist two years ago.
Indeed, common sense and history tells us there’s something deeply strange about medical “experts” and media so fanatically hard-selling a new and basically untested vaccine and yet see those very same experts and media be very dismissive of medicines (e.g., ivermectin) that have been around and tested for decades.
Now that studies have confirmed that lockdowns were ineffective at stopping COVID transmission, that it did nothing to keep the death rates down, and yet caused vast economic devastation and millions of lost livelihoods;
Now that research is confirming that masks are basically ineffective in stopping COVID transmission, while at the same time subjecting the wearer to all sorts of bacteria, as well as speech problems in the young;
Now that a deluge of reports has come out that vaccines were ineffective in stopping COVID transmission, without beneficial effects for those below 60 years of age and healthy, and yet see vaccinated healthy young people suddenly fall ill or die of myocarditis or sudden adult death syndrome, of women having menstrual and fertility issues, pregnant women having complications, with birth rates across the globe falling down while excess deaths have gone up;
Now, after all the insults, threats, and even outright deprivation of civil rights, now that they have been proven wrong — about lockdowns and masks and vaccines — these supposed medical “experts,” our “betters” in government and media, the self-righteous scolds in the clergy and the academe, the mask-wearing-never-leaving-the-house-and-triple-vaxxed-and-boosted virtue signalers now want to ignore and forget all that and demand that we just “move on”?
If they are not asking for forgiveness (in fact, many are still even now doubling down on lockdowns, masks, and vaccines against all reason, facts, data, logic), then forgiveness will not be given. And even if they did, forgiveness is given only with contrition. And even with contrition, forgiveness needs to be coupled with justice. And justice must be had.
Also, two words: moral hazard.
And, again, emphasizing what this column repeatedly pointed out: “public officials and employees, contractors, manufacturers, volunteers, and representatives of duly authorized private entities” can be sued and held liable if proven that they acted with “willful misconduct and gross negligence” in using or administering COVID vaccines. Republic Act No. 11525 set aside P500 million to compensate people “inoculated through the COVID-19 Vaccination Program” and because of it suffered “severe adverse effects” including “death, permanent disability or hospital confinement.”
Furthermore, the Employee Compensation Commission (ECC) moved to “grant compensation to all covered members who got vaccinated under the COVID-19 Vaccination Program in the event of disability, serious adverse effects or death that may arise despite the proper use of authorized COVID-19 vaccines” (ECC Board Resolution No. 21-03-08, March 2021). Such a policy was intended to cover “loss of income benefits, medical benefits, death and funeral benefits, and rehabilitation services. ECC shall grant EC benefits upon confirmation of the SSS and GSIS of the causal connection between the vaccination and its medical consequences as supported by relevant medical records and/or findings.”
PhilHealth, in turn, is mandated to “compensate persons inoculated through the National COVID-19 Vaccination Program in case of death, permanent disability, and hospital confinement for serious adverse effects. The COVID-19 Vaccine Injury Compensation Package, as stated in PhilHealth Circular (PC) No. 2021-0007, is on top of the National Health Insurance Program (NHIP) benefits.
“Under the NHIP, all Filipinos including those who will claim for the vaccine injury compensation are eligible for PhilHealth benefits. For hospital confinement, the inpatient benefits shall be based on the applicable case rates. It shall be deducted from the hospital bill and shall be claimed by the hospitals through the usual process and procedures.”
And it is untrue that private institutions are free to discriminate against the unvaccinated or unmasked. Be it businesses, schools, or residential condominiums: they have no right to violate the constitutional prescription that no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law or be denied the equal protection of laws.
Violation of constitutional rights (e.g., by discriminating against the unvaccinated or forcing people to wear masks) could render such private establishment liable for damages under a myriad of laws, including the Civil Code, particularly Articles 19, 20, 26, and particularly Article 32: Any public officer or employee, or any private individual, who directly or indirectly obstructs, defeats, violates or in any manner impedes or impairs any right or liberty of another person shall be liable to the latter for damages, which includes: freedom of religion; freedom of speech; freedom from arbitrary or illegal detention; the right against deprivation of property without due process of law; the right to the equal protection of the laws; the right to be secure in one’s person, house, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures; the liberty of abode and of changing the same; and the right to take part in peaceful assembly to petition the Government for redress of grievances.
Filipinos that suffered serious adverse effects (or had a family member that died) due to COVID vaccination are strongly encouraged to document their experiences and claim government compensation, or (as provided by law) prosecute and hold accountable those that forced or misled them into taking the vaccines.
People should save, screenshot, and download posts, articles, memes, memos, e-mails of doctors, government officials, employers that forced them to be vaccinated. Especially from 2020-2021. Aside from illness or death, if you or a family member lost employment, income, education, or suffered stress, the need for accountability is clear. Legally complain also against people or establishments (public or private) forcing you to wear masks.
These “experts” and the COVID self-righteous must be held responsible for their arrogance, bullying, and incompetence. n
Jemy Gatdula is a senior fellow of the Philippine Council for Foreign Relations and a Philippine Judicial Academy law lecturer for constitutional philosophy and jurisprudence