Suspending DSWD cash grants over Covid-19

>> Friday, March 27, 2020


It is unfortunate the Dept. of Social Welfare and Development  temporarily suspended cash grants to beneficiaries of its poverty alleviation program saying this was being done to help prevent the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).
The agency suspended the payouts for the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), social pension and unconditional cash transfer (UCT) for indigents as well as distribution of 4Ps cash cards and field surveys for the 2019 National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction or the Listahanan.
The Listahanan lays down the database of the country’s poorest families.
DSWD Secretary Rolando Joselito Bautista signed on March 14 Department Advisory No. 1, providing guidelines on the prevention, control and mitigation of COVID-19 in DSWD offices as well as in its attached and supervised agencies. 
The advisory set the steps to be taken by the agency to safeguard its workers from Covid-19, and in joining national efforts to contain and eradicate the disease.
The advisory also identified DSWD programs and services to be suspended from March 15 to April 14, as these require meetings or convergence of beneficiaries and other stakeholders. 
“This step will minimize the exposure of the beneficiaries and DSWD employees to the threats of COVID-19,” the agency said in a statement.
The DSWD gave the assurance that it would regularly assess the suspension to ensure its responsiveness to the evolving situation.
“This will determine if the suspension of the programs and activities will have to be continued or not,” the agency said.
But the DSWD said it would continue its assistance to individuals in crisis situation program for the needy.
Applicants may proceed to Social Welfare and Development (SWAD) offices in different provinces and DSWD field offices.
The SWAD and DSWD field offices will process 30 and 50 applications daily, respectively.
The DSWD central office will accept and process requests for assistance of 100 beneficiaries daily.
Whether the decision of the DSWD to suspend the cash grants was for the better of the populace or not, one thing is sure, it was the poor again who were hit by the decision.
DSWD officials may have to experience not eating even for a day to know how hard it is to go hungry – particularly children of poor families.


‘Class marginalization’ in crisis like Covid-19

Alfred P. Dizon

BAGUIO CITY -- “Responding to a crisis like this in ways that only serve the upper class is bound to backfire and fail. A government asked to serve the public must serve all of the public.”
These were the words of journalist Gaby Baizas on the government’s response to Covid-19 even as the number of afflictions keep going higher by the day.
Take the case of not allowing public transport vehicles to roam the streets and deliver passengers to their destinations. In Baguio alone, when the directive was announced we have been asked by some acquaintances to ferry them home.
Call it class marginalization, but those who have private cars can use them to go to their destinations unlike public vehicles who cannot. There are more people who don’t have vehicles and it was heart-wrenching seeing people walking the streets to go home.
They were caught off-guard when the law was suddenly implemented Monday. There were mothers carrying their babies while carrying food supplies with the other arm.
On social media, dialysis patients were crying for help in going to hospitals to have their treatment or they would die. Medical workers were not in hospitals for lack of vehicles to go to work.
These were among complaints of those who didn’t have cars.
Despite these, the Dept. of Justice on March 17, defended the decision of the Philippine National Police to arrest public transport drivers and impound their public utility vehicles for continuing to operate in defiance of measures under the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine.
“We should note that the guidelines on the enhanced community quarantine suspended temporarily the operation of mass public transport facilities,” Justice DOJ Spokesperson and Undersecretary Mark Perete said. “The suspension is meant to minimize mobility and prevent mass transmission of the disease.”
Perete warned those who defy the enhanced community quarantine measures face charges of resistance and disobedience to a person in authority under Article 151 of the Revised Penal Code, among others.
Meanwhile, PNP Chief Gen. Archie Gamboa said he will also ask the Land Transportation Franchising. Regulatory Board to issue an order instructing all transport operators that their operations are currently suspended because of the enhanced community quarantine.
“Remember, in the hands of an operator, a franchise to operate is a privilege saddled with conditions, among them compliance with lawful orders of the state,” he said.
Perete said transport operators could face suspension of their franchises should they violate such an LTFRB order.
“Action against the franchise becomes important since operators may force their drivers to continue plying routes,” he said. “The possible cancellation, etc. of the franchise could deter operators from doing so.”
On Monday Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri announced his testing positive for the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), President Rodrigo Duterte ordered an enhanced community quarantine in the whole of Luzon to stem the tide of the deadly scourge.
The term was the government’s designated word for an “absolute lockdown or a total lockdown,” descriptions which came from presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo.
“It means absolute lockdown or a total lockdown,” Panelo said. “It means that all persons will be subjected to strict home quarantine.”
The Palace mouthpiece said no movement will be allowed, including transportation, except for those of frontline health workers, authorized government officials and transport of basic services and necessities.
President Rodrigo Duterte, in his formal announcement last night, said the threat of the virus is real. He cited the increasing number of cases in the country which has risen to 140 with a death toll of 12, still low, he said but could exponentially rise if left unchecked.
The Chief executive called on the public to heed authorities and follow the law in this time of emergency.
“Stricter measures are necessary. That is why I am placing the entire island of Luzon in enhanced community quarantine until April 12, 2020 coinciding with the entire end of the Holy week,” Duterte said.
The President said the measure is not a form of martial law, as critics are insinuating, saying there is no invasion, whatsoever.
“There is nothing to fear. We are all soldiers in this fight against the deadly virus,” Duterte said.
He urged big businesses to think of ways of how to ease the burden of displaced workers, including the early release of 13th month pays for the duration of the quarantine.
He also called on the communist rebels to refrain from “touching” his soldiers who are all in the fight against the dreaded virus.
“Ceasefire muna tayo. Huwag niyo munang galawin ang mga sundalo. (Do not touch the soldiers. Let’s have a ceasefire first) I will repay you later with a good heart,” he said.
The new order superseded the initial proclamation of a Metro Manila-wide community quarantine on March 14.
Zubiri learned of the bad news Tuesday afternoon from Health Secretary Francisco Duque III.
“My heart sank with what he said but I’m uplifted by the fact that I am asymptomatic and have no fever or cough nor I am weak or have any headaches,” Zubiri said in a statement.
He added the decision to self-quarantine last March 12 after session was the best decision he made and could have protected his family from contamination.
“This just goes to show how easily this virus is spread and therefore it is best for everyone to stay home and stay clean. As for me I will stay locked in isolation for 10 more days until I get checked once again with hopefully a negative result,” he said.
Chaos and confusion met the implementation of the first order on March 15 and 16, with commuters and public transportation generally failing to heed the details of the quarantine rules.
“PRRD just announced an enhanced community quarantine in the entire Luzon,” Panelo said in a statement.
Based on Section 3 of the directive, a “Community Quarantine is hereby imposed over the entire National Capital Region. Local government units shall abide by the directives of the Department of Health and the Department of the Interior and Local Government in the imposition of general and enhanced community quarantine in their respective jurisdictions.
“Under the enhanced community quarantine, strict home quarantine shall be implemented in all households; transportation shall be suspended; provision for food and essential health services shall be regulated and heightened presence of uniformed personnel to enforce quarantine procedures will be implemented,” the directive read.
Afterwards, the whole of Luzon was added to the quarantine order.
MalacaƱang said it was open to the idea of putting all confirmed cases into one place including those who are still being monitored.
“We are recommending that there should only one place where we can put all those confirmed cases. There is a need to do this as there will be not enough hospitals to take care all of the patients.
Panelo disclosed that food and essential needs will be delivered to homes courtesy of the local government units.
In the Cordillera, as in other parts of Northern Luzon, there were still no food deliveries at press time.  
There was also be heightened presence of uniformed personnel in quarantined areas to ensure compliance.
“It means we will have to stay at home. Work will be suspended. There is suspension of work. The general rule is, there is suspension of work,” Panelo said.
A skeleton force will render work in government offices.
“When you say there is quarantine in your homes, it means you don’t need to travel. You don’t need transportation for that except only for medical and humanitarian reasons. They will be allowed to go home,” Panelo said.
Problem until, now, there were still no vehicles to ferry the masses home although some local government units tried to solve the problem by hiring shuttle buses.


Is China a threat to our sovereignty?

Perry Diaz

While I personally believe that China is a threat to Philippine sovereignty, a lot of opinion makers seem to think otherwise.  What’s the matter, folks? Are you still wearing your “nationalist” blinders or is it simply you can’t see beyond your noses?
First, we isolated ourselves when the framers of the 1987 Constitution and inserted a provision that bans the stationing of foreign troops in the country.  Yet, the American bases as Clark Field, Subic Bay, Sangley Point, and a few others remained.  Then in 1990, the Philippine Senate – by a 12-11 vote – did not renew the American Bases Agreement, which in effect evicted the Americans from the Philippines. The 12 senators called themselves the “Magnificent 12” and in a display of bravura raised their clenched fists in victory.  Philippines is now truly independent, they mused. 
But then-President Cory Aquino, who promised to “kick out” the American bases when she assumed the presidency, had a change of heart.  In an attempt to reverse the Senate vote, Aquino planned to lead a march to the Senate Building to save the treaty, which she considered vital to the interests of the country.  It did not materialize.  It was too late.
American base closures
Clark Air Base was abandoned in 1991 -- a year ahead of schedule -- due to the massive damage done by the Mt. Pinatubo eruption.  On November 24, 1992, the U.S. flag was lowered in Subic Bay Naval Base for the last time.  But the U.S.-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) is still in effect, albeit inutile due to the constitutional ban on foreign troops. In 1994, two years after the U.S. bases closed, China grabbed Panganiban (Mischief) Reef in the middle of the night. 
Then-President Fidel Ramos’ administration filed an aide-memoire and a diplomatic protest against Beijing, which were ignored.
In November 1996, then-Chinese President Jiang Zemin, during his state visit to the Philippines, proposed joint exploration of the resource-rich Spratly Islands.
But Ramos knew that such joint exploration would mean submission to Chinese hegemony in the South China Sea.  He told Jiang he would only agree to it if other countries agreed to it too.  Nobody did.
Eighteen years later, China grabbed six other reefs in the Spratlys and took soil from Mindanao to build artificial islands around them.  They then built air and naval bases on the reclaimed islands. 
Today, aircraft, missiles, and warships are deployed to these bases, which are within striking distance to any parts of the Philippines.  It’s like a sword of Damocles hanging over Manila.
During President Rodrigo Duterte’s visit to China in 2017, he told Chinese President Xi Jinping: “We intend to drill oil there [Spratly Islands], if it’s yours, well, that’s your view, but my view is, I can drill the oil, if there is some inside the bowels of the earth because it is ours.” 
Xi bluntly told Duterte, There would be war if Manila tried to enforce an arbitration ruling and drill for oil in a disputed part of the South China Sea.” 
It must have broken Duterte’s heart when Xi – whom he blindly idolized – pointedly threatened him with war!  Duterte backed off and never talked about it again.
Broken promises
In my column, “China First or Filipino First?” (February 21, 2020), I said: “When Xi visited the Philippines in 2018, Duterte and Xi signed 29 deals in a framework agreement that set the stage for a joint oil and gas exploration in the South China Sea. The agreement was based on the $24-billion investment pledges Xi made in 2016. In effect Duterte gave away sovereign rights to the disputed area.  It’s no longer exclusively owned by the Philippines, which makes one wonder: What did Duterte get in return?  Nothing yet.  And at the rate things have been moving, it led some to believe that the loan deals could be a case of ‘broken promises.’  It could also be a ‘policy of appeasement’ toward China, hoping that China would soon deliver its part of the bargain.
“But what is appalling is a stipulation in the framework agreement that Chinese businesses would be employing Chinese nationals only.  As the number of Chinese workers increase in number, the same number of Filipino workers are displaced.  A case in point is construction and Pogos – Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators– that are exclusively employing Chinese from Mainland China.”
The good, the bad, and the ugly
It’s interesting to note that some Filipino journalists’ mindsets are fixated on the Philippines’ sovereignty status.  They tend to believe that the Chinese are good, the Filipinos are bad, and the Americans are ugly. 
Yes, I remember the movie, “The Ugly American.”  Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it as:  “An American in a foreign country whose behavior is offensive to the people of that country.”  Although it might be true to a small minority of Americans, the majority is friendly and respectful of others.  But one has to know them to truly appreciate their candidness and directness, often mistaken for arrogance.  Yet, in today’s cultural diversity, Filipinos – according to various polls – love Americans more than any other nationalities.
Could it be that Filipinos love America because it’s the land of freedom-loving people?  In contrast, Chinese live under a godless communist authoritarian regime that suppresses freedom and institutes oppressive laws.  And Filipinos know what freedom is.  They suffered under the martial regime of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos for 21 years. In other words, a communist regime is anathema to the freedom-loving Filipinos.  Surmise it to say, that’s the reason I believe why Filipinos mistrust China.
Creeping invasion
There were several incidents that reinforced my belief of China’s creeping invasion.  First was China’s incursion and takeover of Panganiban Reef 1994.  Second was China’s occupation of Scarborough Shoal in 2012.  Third was the nine-dash-line that China arbitrarily imposed on about 80% of the South China Sea that includes most of the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ) including the Spratly Islands. 
Fourth was China’s non-recognition of the U.N. Arbitral Award that invalidated the nine-dash-line in 2016.  Fifth was the building of seven artificial islands around reefs in the Spratly Islands.  These are several incidents in which China took possession of slices of Philippine territory, which some Filipino journalists refused to acknowledge. 
These journalists subscribe to the notion that China is not our enemy, America is.  One of them said that the senators who voted for a resolution that rejected Duterte’s decision to abrogate VFA before the Supreme Court “want to go back to the days of [American] imperial hegemony.”  
As far as I know, American imperial hegemony ended in 1946 when the U.S. left its last colony, the Commonwealth of the Philippines.  The Philippines has been self-governing since then but their alliance has endured until now.
But Mother America did not leave the Philippines without providing security from foreign invaders.  After helping the government repel the Huk communist rebellion during the early days of the Republic, the MDT was signed in 1951 to provide military aid to the fledgling Philippine Armed Forces. 
The MDT continued to protect the Philippines from communist threats from the Maoist New People’s Army (NPA), who took over the Huk movement after its defeat under the government of the late president Ramon Magsaysay.
By 1990, the young Republic matured into adulthood.  Cory Aquino came to power in the People Power revolution of 1986 on the shoulders of leftists and their oligarch supporters.  As a result, anti-American sentiments grew and the Senate became the battleground for those who harbored grudges against the American “imperialists.” They voted not to renew the bases agreement.  The rest is history.
America was never a threat to Philippine sovereignty.  But without the Philippines’ military alliance with the US, its flanks are wide open, which makes it vulnerable to Chinese machination and aggression. And without security, the Philippines’ sovereignty is indefensibly fragile.  Indeed, China is now the new threat to Philippine sovereignty.  And they’re only 12 miles away from our shores.  Beyond is the disputed South China Sea.


COVID-19 response mechanism rolls out

Aileen P. Refuerzo

BAGUIO CITY – Following the upgrading of the corona virus disease (COVID-19) alert level in the country to Code Red Sub-level 2 on March 12, Mayor Benjamin Magalong stepped up the city government’s preparations for the prevention and response to the public health emergency.
The mayor said that the city remained COVID-19-free as of March 13 contrary to unverified reports of positive cases in certain hospitals.
               He however said the possibility of the city registering positive cases in the coming days is not far-fetched.
The city has set up hotline number 09422692649 or 665-2757 for residents to call if they suspect they have developed signs and symptoms of the virus like acute respiratory and influenza-like illness.  These persons are also directed to go straight to the nearest district health center or medical facility like the Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center which set up a “triage” area in its garden to cater to these patients.
                The mayor convened concerned city government offices March 13 to fast track actions on the preventive and response measures.
To augment health facilities catering to COVID patients, the city will set up a containment center exclusively for persons under investigation (PUIs) who have mild symptoms in collaboration with the various hospitals and the Dept. of Health Center of Health and Development Cordillera.
It will be located at the PFVR gym and will be manned by doctors and medical staff from the different hospitals and will be under the command of BGHMC Medical Chief Dr. Ricardo Runez. 
City Health Officer Rowena Galpo said the DOH-CHD-Car under officer-in-charge regional director Amelita Pangilinan will issue the operational guidelines for the center.
The mayor directed concerned city offices including the General Services Office, City Accounting Office and others to expedite the procurement of the equipment of materials and the deployment of the manpower for the center particularly to tackle the housekeeping, maintenance and waste disposal requirements of the facility. 
The mayor also ordered the massive and intensive disinfection of government offices including schools and the city public market immediately.  He issued a similar order to private business establishments and the transport service sector.
Dr. Galpo said the DOH recommends the sanitizing of areas and facilities frequently touched or used be done at least once a day with the use of bleaching products and water with a mixture ratio of 1:100.
Market Superintendent Fernando Ragma said they will undertake the disinfection of the roads, alleys and stalls immediately.
He reported that the arrival of goods remained unchanged at the city even if there was a stark decrease in the number of market goers.
City Hall disinfection will be undertaken during the weekend even as the mayor  urged the enhancement of measures in offices, the use of the thermal scanners and limiting entrances to just three.
Departments were also urged to adopt alternative work arrangements without disrupting services as per the Civil Service Commission order and the suspension of the conduct of the flag ceremonies and big crowd meetings.
He urged the public not to panic and to keep abreast with the COVID-19 updates only from reliable news sources.
The World Health Organization March 12 declared COVID-19 a global pandemic after cases continued to increase worldwide.
 The response mechanism to cushion effects of Covid-19 on the vulnerable sector has been set in motion with the Office of the City Social Welfare and Development and the city’s barangay officialdom at the helm.
Mayor Magalong said the OCSWDO headed by Betty Fangasan prepared the system of distribution with the involvement of all the 129 barangays to reach out to the families affected by the health crisis.
Fangasan said they conduct Thursday second rationing of the food packs provided by the Dept. of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) through its regional office under the response cluster plan set in place in line with President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s declaration of State of Calamity for the whole country.
The first operation was done early this week targeting 20,000 vulnerable households out of the 92,000 total in the city.
Fangasan said they based the beneficiary allocation on the list of priority households identified by the barangays.
However, the list is not fixed as the barangays can add more households to the list as they see fit based on their continuing assessments.
The food packs contain P450 worth of basic commodities. 
Fangasan said the food supplementation will continue until their supplies last. As of now, their stockpile from the national government will be good for a month.
This will be augmented by the stocks from the city government and donations from the private sector. 
The city put in place a centralized system in the acceptance and disposition of donations to ensure a systematic set-up to be managed by the OCSWDO.
Donations (both perishable and non-perishable items) will be received at the drop-off point at the City Engineering Office Conference Hall, Motorpool , Lower Rock Quarry from Monday to Friday 8a.m. to 5 p.m.
The donations will be properly itemized and receipted by assigned CSWD personnel: Cynthia Langagan, Rebecca Dela Cruz and Helen Dayag.
The OCSWADO will also take charge of the distribution of the items equitably to
the vulnerable households.


Fear versus fear

Jun Malazo

A pandemic of panic has stricken the world.  The rapidly-increasing statistics pumped to us via news outlets and social media are creating unprecedented fear in our entire world.  What is it that people are truly afraid of?  Are we afraid of the COVID-19 or is there something bigger that we are afraid of?
As of March 18, 2020 at 8:13:26 p.m. local time in Baltimore, Maryland, U.S., the COVID-19 has been confirmed to have infected 218,743 people worldwide.  The illness has had a 38.4% recovery rate and a mortality rate of 4%, with the death toll hitting 8,810 people across the world.  The acknowledged start date, cited from of John Hopkins University, is November 17, 2019. 
Based upon this data, the death rate is an average of 2,202.5 people per month.  If the death rate were to remain steady, the annual death rate due to the COVID-19 would be 23,862 people.  If the death rate were to immediately double, the death toll would be 37,445.5 by the end of a one-year span. I understand that we cannot project the future of this virus, but considering other communicable illnesses can help us to put things into perspective. 
We will consider the annual world-wide statistics for tuberculosis, second-hand smoke, HIV and AIDS, and the common flu (influenza).  Tuberculosis is one of the top “killers” in the world.  According to the World Health Organization (WHO) website,, regarding tuberculosis, “A total of 1.5 million people died from TB in 2018. . .”  This would be an average of 125,000 per month. 
Second-hand smoke is a communicable disease that seems to have been accepted in many societies.  Once again consulting the respected WHO we find, “Worldwide, more than 600,000 deaths per year are caused by second-hand smoke. . .”  Innocent victims of others’ poor health habits die at 50,000 people per month world-wide.  The global epidemic of AIDS is lessening each year, but according to, “In 2018, around 770,000 people died from AIDS-related illness worldwide. . .” 
With around 1.7 million people newly infected around the world each year, the startling death rate of 64,188.7 per month is heart-breaking.  The common flu is something we all encounter.  It is so common we often have what is termed a “flu season.”  In an article from, published on February 22, 2020, Tim Clifford states, “The common flu. . . kills up to 650,000 people every year, according to the World Health Organization.”  Considering monthly averages again shows us that 54,166.7 people die globally from the “common flu” each year.  Communicable diseases all have something in common—they are preventable.  With these startling statistics, why aren’t we having a global scare about all of these aforementioned diseases?
Before we attempt to pinpoint what people are truly afraid of, let us consider what “fear” is.  According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary online, the word “fear” as a noun has four definitions.  For the purpose of this article we will consider definitions number one and number four.  Definition one states that fear is: “an unpleasant often strong emotion caused by anticipation or awareness of danger.” 
Definition four defines fear as: “profound reverence and awe especially toward God.”  Interestingly, while listed as definitions for the same word, each type of “fear” produces different results.  Consider what you are fearing as we contrast these two types of fear. 

Many of us have experienced “an unpleasant often strong emotion caused by anticipation or awareness of danger.”  Each day there are things that alarm or startle us, make us feel anxious, or absolutely terrify us.  Fear controls our emotions and, many times, even our actions. Fear can be crippling to the point that we cannot even move our bodies.  Fear can be so overwhelming in our emotions that we may sob uncontrollably or sometimes even go hysterical.  Fear drives some to react in anger or violence. 
Fear often causes us to do things we would not normally do if we were thinking rationally.  Fear drives people to make foolish choices that they later regret.  Fear causes people to make rash financial decisions which drive them to poverty.  Fear causes us to doubt things we otherwise know are absolutely true.  Constant fear distresses the mental, emotional, and physical being of a person even causing death. Fear keeps us in bondage to constantly suffer bad or what the Bible calls “evil” things.
If we have a “profound reverence and awe especially toward God”, we are set free from suffering these evil things.  The Bible tells us in Proverbs 14:26, “In the fear of the LORD is strong confidence: and his children shall have a place of refuge.”  How can the word “fear’’ appear in the same sentence as “confidence’’ and “refuge’’?  A more thorough definition of “fear”, as pertaining to the fear of God, can be seen in the Webster’s 1828 Dictionary:
In scripture, fear is used to express a filial or a slavish passion.  In good men, the fear of God is a holy awe or reverence of God and his laws, which springs from a just view and real love of the divine character, leading the subjects of it to hate and shun every thing that can offend such a holy being, and inclining them to aim at perfect obedience.  This is filial fear.  Slavish fear is the effect or consequence of guilt; it is the painful apprehension of merited punishment.
Those whose lives are being lived in rebellion to God may not even realize it, but they have the “slavish fear” of God.  They are always waiting for Him to give them the punishment they deserve for their wicked deeds.  Those who have come to a true personal relationship with God and are living their lives in “filial fear” as defined here; can live in freedom from fear as we commonly understand it.  Those who live in this filial fear have been given many promises from God that can bring them peace in the midst of even the most tumultuous of times.
The phrase “the fear of the LORD” which we saw in Proverbs 14:26, appears in the Bible thirty times—twenty-eight times it is “the fear of the LORD” while two times it is “the fear of the Lord.”  Isaiah 33:6 tells us that the fear of the LORD is a treasure.  “. . . the fear of the LORD is his treasure.”  Before we can completely understand why fearing God, who is called by his name LORD in these phrases, can be a treasure and bring freedom, it is important to understand the meaning of His name “LORD.”
In the Bible, two of God’s names are “LORD” and “Lord.”  On the surface this may only seem like a capitalization difference, but it is far more.  These are two different names speaking of two different attributes of God.  Looking at the original languages in which the Bible was written, the name translated as “LORD” is “Yahweh” or “Jehovah.”  This name shows us that God is “the Self-existent or eternal.”  His name “Lord” comes from the name “Adonai” which means “sovereign, controller.”  Let us see what God, the LORD, promises to those who fear Him:
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments:  his praise endureth for ever.  (Psalm 111:10)
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge:  but fools despise wisdom and instruction.  (Proverbs 1:7)

In the fear of the LORD is strong confidence: and his children shall have a place of refuge.  (Proverbs 14:26)
The fear of the LORD tendeth to life: and he that hath it shall abide satisfied: he shall not be visited with evil.  (Proverbs 19:23)
These promises given by the self-existent, eternal God, the LORD, are directly opposite to what  we experience when we have the fear of evil things.  Psalm 37:3 tells us to “Trust in the LORD….”  Psalm 37 is full of promises to those who will trust in the LORD.  Verse nineteen says, “They shall not be ashamed in the evil time:  and in the days of famine they shall be satisfied.”  In this verse the word “ashamed” means “to pale (become pale in one’s face from shock or fear) or to be disappointed”. 
The word “evil” means “adversity, affliction, bad, calamity.”  The word “satisfied” means “to be full of” or “to have plenty of.”  So, when we live trusting and fearing  the LORD we do not have to suffer shock or fear when times are bad and full of adversity and calamity.  God promises that He will be the One that will be sure that we are satisfied to the full and have plenty of what we need.
Let us consider Isaiah 33:6 once again:  “And wisdom and knowledge shall be the stability of thy times, and strength of salvation:  the fear of the LORD is his treasure.”  God promised to those who fear the LORD, “stability of times.”  How can He promise this when times certainly appear to be unstable all around the world?  Our stability comes from within.  While things can be crashing down all about us, we can be stable and not fear these unstable times.  Obviously the wisdom and knowledge of man are not creating stability in our world or our minds.  This is because it is the fear of the LORD that is the beginning of true wisdom and knowledge. 
As we come to understand what we fear, we understand how it affects our minds and our lives.  The fear of evil, bad, or calamity—which in our current world is the COVID-19—only promises to continue to torture us.  Thus, I would like to revisit one of my original questions: What is it that people are truly afraid of?  It is not the COVID-19 that people are afraid of—it is death. 
People are afraid to die.  Why are people afraid to die?  It is because countless people in the world do not know what they will face after death.  They do not live in the fear of the LORD, they live in the fear of death, which was brought into our world by the devil.  The Bible calls the devil “the prince of the power of the air.”  He is masterful at scaring and deceiving people.  Those who live in the fear of the LORD are not afraid of the devil, or his work, or even of death.
Jesus, the Son of God, died to conquer the devil, death, and sin.  Speaking of Jesus, the Bible tells us in Hebrews 10:12,13, “But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;  From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool.”  Once again speaking of Jesus, the Bible says, “And you, being dead in your sins…hath he quickened [made alive] together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses [sin]”.
Those who have accepted the death of Jesus on the cross as the sole, complete payment for their sin do not have to fear death.  You can be absolutely sure that when you face eternity you will definitely live with God forever in Heaven.  John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”  Those belonging to Jesus, living in the fear of the LORD, need not even fear the present turmoil for God promises, “In the fear of the LORD is strong confidence:  and his children shall have a place of refuge” (Proverbs 14:26).  What or who do you choose to fear?  May I encourage you to choose to live in the fear of the LORD—the self-existent, sovereign controller of all—and receive the many wonderful treasures He promises to you.


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