Today’s Straits Times front page is making the rounds of local Viber groups.
Culture Spotlight

Hot on Viber threads: The Straits Times names PH as likely to be Southeast Asia’s COVID hot spot

The PH is Viber famous today—for the wrong reasons. BY JACS T. SAMPAYAN
ANCX | Aug 05 2020

Here’s today’s serving of face palm news: The August 5 frontpage of Singapore’s Straits Times carries the headline “Philippines likely to become S-E Asia's coronavirus hot spot.” A photo of the front page has been circling Viber groups in the Philippines, and the accompanying comments run the gamut from “Nakakahiya!” to “Now we’re the source of imported cases.” 

The cover piece of the 175-year-old Singapore-based publication highlighted our recent COVID-19 woes: 6,352 new cases on August 4, with more than 112,000 total cases, 2,115 deaths; tough-shelter restrictions on provinces and region placed back on Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine from August 4 to 18, and stern warnings from our healthcare workers that we are “waging a losing battle” against the virus. “The decision to reimpose a two-week lockdown was taken reluctantly by President Rodrigo Duterte, with experts estimating that the economy stands to lose 12 billion pesos (S$337 million) a day,” the article reads.

Like we said, the photo of the newspaper, is met with generous amounts of shame —but also an equal dose of impassioned recommendations. “I think our government needs to consult with experts from other countries,” says one of commenter. “Waiting for the vaccine from China isn’t the answer.” Others pointed out the challenges we are in: “Local governments need to be more strict in enforcing guidelines. MM is a very crowded city. It should take its cue from NYC. Cebu’s cases are down from last month already and Davao is opening up its night markets.”

You may also like:

After leading with our impending COVID leadership in the region—we are only 3,000 away from Indonesia, a number that is peanuts compared to the tallies we’ve been logging the past week—it also made mention of the challenges of other countries such as Australia, France, Germany, and the United States. US President Trump, however, denied on Twitter that his administration is struggling, saying that the country has done much better than most other countries despite its 4.9 million cases, punctuating his tweet with favorite random and accusatory aside of “fake news.”

But back to us and our shameful situation. Sure, being the current toast of Viber shouldn’t even be making a dent in our consciousness. But the people’s collective discontent and everyone scrambling to give their own hot take just underscores the big life-threatening problems we are in right now. As our own COVID expert writes: “The government needs to regroup, strategize and create a blueprint of the best and worst case scenario for our exit plan from this pandemic, particularly NCR. If we had one, we wouldn’t be having this discussion now.”