Thursday, February 4, 2021

Vax day dry runs and other vexations

Philippine Daily Inquirer/OPINION/Ma. Ceres P. Doyo

I always have this nasty feeling that some agencies tasked to put order and safety in our lives end up messing up if not making life difficult for us Filipinos. My frequent refrain: Ang galing ninyo magpahirap ng tao. (You are such experts in making life difficult for people.) That said, let me ruminate.

Here in Metro Manila earthquake drills had been held regularly in the past in anticipation of the Big One that has yet to shake and rattle our lives but which experts say is a matter of not if but when. These drills have now been put aside because of other natural calamities that recently visited our lives, some of them unprecedented and catching us ill-prepared.

And so this once-in-a-hundred-years virus pandemic that has been running for one year all over the world should no longer stun and petrify the likes of us. After almost a year and more than 10,000 coronavirus-caused deaths in the Philippines, Filipinos should have gotten the hang of it and continue to obsessively observe health protocols. No, people are beginning to get lax and throwing caution to the wind by cavorting with bare faces, despite the so-called new strain of the virus crash landing on our shores.

With the imminent arrival of the vaccine, a new day is dawning, to use a cliché, but are we—the vaccinators, the willing vaccinees and those in charge of delivering the goods to our 7,000 or so humanly inhabited islands—prepared for the monumental process?  Or will we be falling all over ourselves like we do whenever there are new processes that involve crowds and queues, novel systems that need smooth implementation, discipline and order? Do we have enough systems specialists (or whatever they are called) or chaos control experts?

Look at the chaos that happened in the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) when it was announced that RFID compliance would be required, that is, no more cash payments in the privately-run tollways. Valenzuela City where the traffic nightmare happened got the mayor so riled up he had to step in and call out the tollway people.

I commend the Ayala-run AutoSweep system (for SLEX etc.) for an orderly process. I got my RFID sticker from the Ayala Mall at Cloverleaf in Quezon City. But for EasyTrip (for NLEX etc.) I had to ask someone to please use my car and get my RFID sticker from either the Balintawak or Tabang exit as I had yet no plan to drive northward and how was I going to turn back? Irate motorists ask, why not one RFID for both?

Remember the requirement of a plastic barrier between two people (couples mostly) riding in tandem on motorcycles? That was to prevent the virus from being passed on from rider to back rider or vice versa and, in most cases, from spouse to spouse who sleep together in one bed every day of their married lives. Who was the genius…

Now comes the not-so-new requirement of protective child seats in cars so suddenly sprung at motorists who are still reeling from the RFID via dolorosa. And what is this I hear about new requirements for car registration renewals?

Another pahirap: Using Quezon City e-services online for getting a QC ID (for vaccination, etc.) one must fill up a form, upload photo and scanned ID and write a digital signature. My application was rejected because my digital signature did not match the one on my driver’s license. ALL CAPS (am shouting): How can you write with the tip of your finger or with a mouse a good digital signature on a small rectangle on a gadget or PC screen?

Drum roll. After the complicated process of ordering the vaccines from Big Pharmas, fund sourcing and political maneuverings with vaccine-producing countries, are we prepared to hit the ground running when the tens of millions of vaccine vials arrive? Have the national and local governments and agencies, as well as private entities done dry runs, drills and, as in theater performances, dress rehearsals? Or will it be hit and miss? I dread the chaos and cacophony that might ensue on the first day or weeks.

The Girl Scout motto I live by: Be prepared.