Captured: These photos show how social distancing rules were broken in queues for gov’t cash aid, orders for Mother’s Day

May 11, 2020 - 6:11 PM
People crowd outside the Bagong Pagasa Elementary School in Quezon City on May 10, 2020 for the last day of the distribution of the first tranche of Social Amelioration Program. (The STAR/Michael Varcas)

Stringent physical distancing measures were not observed in some circumstances over the weekend during the distribution of cash aids and in queues in food establishments during Mother’s Day on Sunday.

Residents of Barangay Bagong Pag-asa in Quezon City lined up outside the Bagong Pag-asa Elementary School on Sunday to receive the national government’s financial assistance through the social amelioration program.

Reports said that they started queuing as early 5 a.m. since May 10 was the deadline of the first tranche of the cash aid.

Low-income families and other qualified households are supposed to receive cash from the Department of Social Welfare and Development through local government units (LGUs) to help them get by amid the enhanced community quarantine.

The LGUs were given until May 10 to completely distribute the cash aid among qualified Filipinos.

Pictures and videos of the incident in Quezon City showed that physical distancing was not thoroughly practiced, to the dismay of social media users.

It caught the attention of Senators Joel Villanueva and Sonny Angara who lamented the lack of preventive measures undertaken. Angara described the financial aid queue as “crazy” and “unhealthy.”

Sen. Win Gatchalian likewise said that the scenario was disheartening to see as he complained how the distribution of the financial aid was not well-thought of.

“Dapat hindi pinapunta ang tao ng sabay sabay. Dapat iba ibang oras at iba ibang araw. Hindi pinagplanuhan ng mabuti ang distribusyon ng pera. Dahil desperado na ang tao, talagang dadagsa sila sa location,” he added.

Others suggested that the cash aid should be distributed “house-to-house” instead so that it wouldn’t be too risky.

In an interview, Barangay Bagong-asa chairman Rodolfo Palma said that they have called the assistance of the Philippine National Police to control the crowd since the residents were reportedly not listening to them.

“Nawawala na sa kanila ‘yong social distancing, physical distancing,” he said.

Francisca Mariano, a city administrator staff, reasoned that their office was not able to open at 2:30 p.m. because some workers in the treasury were reportedly overworked and sleep-deprived already.

“Yung mga iba po, inuumaga. Inuumaga na sila tapos sila, may assignment pa kinabukasan,” she said.

Meanwhile, a number of food establishments in the metro failed to practice physical distancing measures among their customers queuing for orders and pickups of meals and baked goods in celebration of Mother’s Day.

A certain branch of Red Ribbon in Quezon City showed a queue of customers flocking near the entrance of the bakeshop without regard to the preventive measure.

The same instance was observed in a Parañaque City branch of Conti’s Bakeshop where several Filipinos, despite wearing masks, failed to distance themselves from each other as a precaution against the coronavirus disease.

Pictures of the scenario were anonymously sent to social media page South Snippets, a community of Filipinos living in the southern part of the metro.

Dining out in restaurants and food establishments are not allowed by the government under the enhanced community quarantine. The government, however, allows delivery services so food businesses have resorted to pickup or delivery services.

While there are delivery apps available to service customers in Metro Manila, some areas are not covered by the app or the establishment.

The importance of limiting physical contact 

Strictly practicing physical distancing measures is one of the means in mitigating the spread of the coronavirus disease which has a high transmission rate.

People are supposed to maintain a distance of at least one meter away from each other to reduce contact and limit the possible spread of the deadly pathogen.

Experts said that observing such a preventive measure is crucial for “flattening the curve” or significantly reducing the number of infections in a community so that the health care system wouldn’t be burdened with cases.

In public transportations such as the Metro Rail Transit and the Light Rail Transit, barriers and visual cues have been set in place to help commuters limit close physical contact as much as possible.

In Baguio City, authorities painted portions of the road to help residents maintain distance while going to wet and dry public markets.

The initiative went viral and social media users were quick to remark that visual cues are one of the most effective ways to enforce physical distancing measures.

RELATED: This is how Baguio City police implements ‘social distancing’ in public market

It caught the attention of Pasig City chief transport planner Anton Sy, who commented that Filipinos can be obedient if there are “good systems” in place.

Turns out Pinoys behave when we actually design good systems instead of just whining about ‘disiplina!'” he shared on Twitter

Malacañang said that maintaining physical distance in the public will be a huge part of the “new normal” while a vaccine is not yet available against the viral disease.