Wednesday, May 22, 2024

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Upon reviewing the lockdown situation, the functions of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC PH) and Dr. Iggy Agbayani have been reassessed.


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The current global health crisis has not only exposed the dangers of the virus, but also the flaws in our society. There is a clear bias from social media platforms, healthcare institutions, certain experts and leaders against alternative methods and medicines that have been proven to be effective, affordable, and readily available in preventing and treating COVID-19. Unfortunately, instead of implementing these measures, we are following costly and inadequate guidelines such as the use of Remdesivir, strict lockdowns, and nonsensical quarantines. This harmful response to the crisis is largely motivated by profit and a non-democratic agenda of powerful corporations and individuals. It is imperative that we take action now for the well-being of our nation and future generations. May God guide us in this endeavor. – Dr. Benigno “Doc Iggy” Agbayani Jr., Founding President of Concerned Doctors and Citizens of the Philippines (CDC PH), during a public hearing held by the Committee on Good Government and Accountability at the House of Representatives on May 17, 2021.

The government should not have authority over its citizens unless it can be held responsible for any harm it causes. The immunity from lawsuits for injuries caused by experimental vaccines and coerced consent, as well as incomplete or false information, should be removed. Currently, drug manufacturers, administering doctors, and the government are all protected from legal consequences in cases of injuries or death related to the Covax vaccine. This statement was made by Doc Iggy Agbayani on Twitter on February 15, 2022.

Doc Iggy, who passed away on October 5th, was praised by CDC PH for his leadership that brought hope and courage to many Filipinos during the pandemic. His efforts helped avoid countless hospitalizations and deaths.

“Very few know that Doc Iggy opted to step down from the presidency of CDC PH when an old malpractice suit filed against him that had been in the court system for years was suddenly resurrected. This was not long after he began to speak up for the millions of us Filipinos who were being forced to give up our Constitutional rights and liberties, adopt unscientific medical protocols, and ingest insufficiently tested medicines for what has now been proven to be a highly suspect and extremely politicized virus.

Unfortunately, the previous case not only progressed at an unexpectedly rapid pace, but it also led to his conviction despite clear evidence of his innocence. Knowing he was innocent, Doc Iggy chose not to pursue a pardon or apply for parole, as it would acknowledge his conviction and sentencing as fair or just. However, neither were true.

In September 2020, the CDC PH was created with a singular objective: to alleviate fear by providing early treatment for at-risk individuals and ending the lockdown. This organization was the largest anti-lockdown group in the nation, with Doc Iggy serving as its inaugural president.

I became a member of CDC PH a week after it was launched. They were seeking an economist to volunteer and assist in understanding the economic consequences of the lockdown. I have been vocal in my dissent towards the lockdown since it was implemented in March 2020. In 2020, I wrote multiple articles for BusinessWorld discussing the topic: “End the lockdown, no more extension” (April 22), “Inter-Agency to Terminate Functional businesses (IATF)” (June 10, when the Philippines’ unemployment rate rose from 5.3% in January to 17.7% in April), “Economic hardships worse than virus risks” (July 15), “Flatten the fear and hysteria, not the economy” (Sept. 23), “GDP contraction, CDC PH, and medicine taxes” (Nov. 11, when GDP growth in 2020 was -0.7% in Q1, -16.9% in Q2, and -11.5% in Q3).

The Philippines government’s strict lockdown measures, advised by their consultants and experts, resulted in a 9.5% decline in the economy in 2020. This was the most severe economic downturn in Asia that year, and the worst performance for the Philippines since World War 2. The government’s closure of numerous tax-paying businesses and public transportation led to widespread unemployment and financial struggles for those in the private sector. Meanwhile, all government employees, from national to barangay level, continued to receive their full salaries, bonuses, and allowances, resulting in a significant increase in borrowing that persists to this day.

The ratio of the Philippines’ total debt to its GDP increased significantly, going from 37% in 2019 to 52% in 2020 and then 57.5% in 2022. In contrast, a number of Asian countries were able to avoid strict lockdown measures and experienced growth in 2020, such as Bangladesh, Taiwan, and Vietnam. These countries either saw a decrease or only a slight increase in their debt-to-GDP ratio from 2019 to 2020. (Refer to Table 1 for details.)

At this time, the primary worry for a lot of Filipinos is the increasing inflation. From January to September 2023, our inflation rate has reached 6.6%, which is twice as high as Malaysia and Vietnam, and around three times higher than Thailand and Taiwan.

Is there a connection between this and the COVID pandemic? Is it possible that there is a delayed effect, similar to a “fiscal hangover” from the strict lockdowns in 2020-2021? Upon further examination, it appears that the answer is “Yes.” The government’s borrowing has increased significantly from 2020-2022, with an average of P2.24 trillion per year compared to P0.88 trillion in 2019. (Refer to Table 2)

High government borrowing means high interest rates as government competes with corporations and households in getting loans. High interest rates force companies and households to also raise the prices of their products, services, and labor, and this contributes to higher inflation.

I attended the funeral of Doc Iggy last Sunday. Many people, along with numerous flowers and wreaths, were in attendance. Among them were his family and relatives, fellow classmates from Philippine Science High School (batch 1982), his classmates from UP College of Medicine (batch 1991), colleagues from Manila Doctors Hospital and UP Philippine General Hospital, as well as his CDC PH family and friends. Congressmen Mike Defensor and Dante Marcoleta also paid their respects to the man. The two legislators had previously invited him and other doctors from CDC PH to speak at several public hearings in 2021 regarding health protocols and the possibility of ending the lockdown.

Many individuals view Doc Iggy as a hero, particularly those who felt hopeless during the lockdown and were provided with medical assistance and motivation to fight for their rights. Additionally, hundreds of inmates at Manila City Jail were grateful to have access to numerous specialized doctors, along with free medical consultations, medication, food, and educational materials, thanks to Doc Iggy’s network of doctors and volunteers. They now hope to continue receiving these privileges that were previously unavailable. Doc Iggy’s loved ones assure that he will return.

The main lessons for all – that the lockdown dictatorship was wrong and diabolical; that kindness of the heart, humility, and purity of intention to help others will help us have a peaceful and compassionate society. Doc Iggy has shown the way.

 

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