If the government wants public cooperation in efforts to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019, it should improve its messaging and implementation of measures against COVID-19.
Confusion marked the implementation of the community quarantine in Metro Manila, later enhanced to include all of Luzon. Even those tasked to implement the measure lacked clarity on the specifics of the order. There was no systematic and uniform protocol among the Metro Manila local government units in implementing the temperature and ID checks. The confusion further stoked panic buying in supermarkets and pharmacies and led to crowding at checkpoint bottlenecks.
In the absence of mass transportation, for example, alternative modes of bringing frontline workers to their workplaces, such as nurses and pharmacy personnel, should have been made available. Or else employers in exempted sectors, such as supermarkets and public utilities, should have been alerted to have private transportation available for their workers.
At several checkpoints, cargo trucks were barred from entering Metro Manila, despite reassurance from Malacañang officials the other night that cargo movement in and out of the National Capital Region would be “unhampered.” Last night, thousands of commuters were stranded all over Metro Manila, waiting for rides to the provinces, with no money to check into temporary shelters and hoping for help from the government.
It’s early days yet; lessons learned in the initial implementation of the community quarantine should lead to fine-tuning of policies and resources. Last night, Malacañang declared a state of calamity nationwide. The move is reportedly meant to speed up the release of quick response funds to local government units and allow the LGUs to assist their constituents in responding to the public health emergency.
People are supporting efforts to beat the COVID-19 contagion. If the community quarantine needed enhancement, however, so does the implementation.