With the way that our leaders are handling the pandemic and with the passing of the Anti-Terror Bill, who is the government actually trying to serve? Following the announcement of the general community quarantine in Metro Manila, the government decided to resume operations of mass transportation with restrictions. Many commuters struggled to catch a ride along Commonwealth Avenue, Quezon City on June 1 due to the limited transport operations, but the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority just said that commuters “seemed to have lost focus” and “forgot that the priority is to stay safe from [the coronavirus].” The government’s incompetence and misplaced priorities have cost lives, including 33-year-old Michelle Silvertino who passed away after spending six days waiting for a bus in Pasay City.
On June 5, a concerned stranger found an ill Silvertino struggling to breathe on a footbridge in Pasay City. According to the police report as mentioned by ABS-CBN News, the stranger reported this to Barangay 159, but they declined to respond. By the time the police brought Silvertino to the hospital later that day, she was pronounced dead on arrival.
According to the news report, Silvertino traveled to Cubao on May 31 to hopefully catch a ride home to see her four children in Bicol. However, she ended up walking all the way to Pasay City and waited until June 5 because no buses were available. Her friends and relatives said that they lost contact with her on May 31. According to her friend Nathanael Alviso, Silvertino was also suffering from a lung disease; after she passed away, health officials noted that COVID-19 was a probable cause. In his Facebook post, Alviso called out the government for their lack of response to Silvertino’s situation. Not long after the news broke out, several people trended #JusticeForMichelleSilvertino.
Silvertino’s story is a blatant display of how the government has failed its people during this crisis. Not only was she unable to get tested and treated for COVID-19 ahead of time, she also bore the brunt of the government’s lack of concrete action in improving mass transportation.
We must remember that Silvertino’s story is just one of the many tragedies (including the unreported ones) borne out of government neglect—and so we need to hold our leaders accountable for this.