Where Are We Going?

Where Are We Going?

The Fourth Gospel ends with the appearance of the Lord Jesus at the Sea of Tiberias where He installs his disciple Peter in his pastoral office. The rest of Peter’s story, as far as scripture is concerned, is told in the Acts of the Apostles. But even there, Peter seems to disappear from the pages of recorded history after the ascendance of Paul, who takes the mission of Christ to the Gentiles. However, according to the apocryphal Acts of Peter, and just like he abandoned Jesus after His arrest, Peter flees from persecution in Rome as he abandons his flock, and along the road outside the city, he meets his risen Lord. In the Latin translation, Peter shocked to see his teacher in the flesh asks Him, “Domine, quo vadis (Lord, where are you going)?” and the Lord replies, “Romam eo iterum crucifigi (I am going to Rome to be crucified again).” (Illustration from the National Trust Prints)

It is not enough to live well. One must die well.

— Gaius Petronius Arbiter, Roman courtier during the reign of Emperor Nero

GENERALLY, Filipinos are obedient, but of late, we are finding more and more of our countrymen who would rather disregard rules just to fulfill their needs or at other times—their whims.

Of late, this willful regard of the rules (meaning the health safety protocols) by many of us has resulted in a fourth surge of the coronavirus pandemic and tens of thousands are falling sick (both from influenza or flu and likewise from Covid-19). Thanks to the complacency, vaccine hesitancy, plain stubbornness of the uneducated, and the stupidity of some.

And here comes the issue of restricting the mobility of the unvaccinated. This has received some criticism, particularly from presidential-aspirant and incumbent senator Manny Pacquiao and progressive members of the House of Representatives. But the truth is, that is all that is—mere criticism—a mosquito-bite on the thick leathery skin of an elephant.

Yet if such a policy happened or was implemented in a more developed country like the United States or particularly the United Kingdom, intense and violent objections are surely anticipated that could lead to social demonstrations and court cases filed before the courts.

Actually, our ‘right to travel’ is enshrined and safeguarded in the 1987 Constitution. However, the statute is not absolute and can be subjected to the State’s police power. The Supreme Court, in the 1968 case of Morfe v. Mutuc, explained police power as the “power to promote the general welfare and public interest; to enact such laws in relation to persons and property as may promote public health, public morals, public safety and the general welfare of each inhabitant; to preserve public order and to prevent offenses against the state and to establish for the intercourse of citizen with citizen those rules of good manners and good neighborhood calculated to prevent conflict of rights.”

Still, there must likewise be both a ‘lawful subject’ and ‘lawful means’ in the application of police power.

But looking back to this restrictive policy targeting the unvaccinated, we see government and its administrative agencies (i.e., Metropolitan Manila Development Authority), and the local government units (LGU) acting in one swoop to enforce what has been decided as the best form of response to the spike in cases of infections and transmissions of Covid-19.

And this is remarkably unique to our public system. By the day, we are seeing issuances from the national government and LGU on the restriction of mobility of Filipino citizens who are not vaccinated, subject to certain exemptions. Luckily, no one has really decided to bring these policies to courts as these pertain to the limitation of individuals’ civil liberties—an intensely sensitive subject in other countries.

Perhaps this can be the subject of future sociological research but as an observer and a journalist for the past 30 years or so—witnessing great changes in this country of ours—the situation tells us that most Filipinos are now ready to follow and are only waiting to be vaccinated. That is because they are afraid of the restrictions and not because they want to be protected from the coronavirus, which should be the real reason why one has to be vaccinated.

To date, however, there are still quite a few vocal anti-vaxxers and they actually comprise a very small minority of the country’s population, and the reasons they bear against vaccination is more from health issues or else downright ignorance.

Finally, with the decision by government authorities to impose or implement the ‘no vax, no ride, entry, etc.’ policy, we are prompted to ask where the hell are we going?

(ai/mtvn)

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