The Department of Interior and Local Government on Sunday passed the blame on the surge of COVID-19 cases in the country to the public again, despite the citizens’ complaints against the supposed glaring gaps in the government’s response to the pandemic.
In a statement issued on June 21, DILG Secretary Eduardo Año claimed that the country will rid of the COVID-19 if only the citizens will cooperate with the national government’s quarantine protocols.
“Ang bawat mamamayan dapat ang pinaka-unang front liner. Kung aalagaan mo sarili mo, sumunod ka sa patakaran, di yan dadami, di magsaspike yan (Each citizen should be the first frontliner. If you will take good care of yourself, follow the guidelines (quarantine rules), it (COVID-19) will not surge. There will be no spike),’’ Año said.
Meanwhile, he said that those who were complaining about the loss of their income should be thankful that they are alive.
“Buhay ka, panalo ka na. Tingnan mo naman sa Amerika, dalawang million ang positive cases, 120,000 ang namamatay, panalo na tayo dito,” Año said.
“Talagang may mawawalan ng trabaho, magsasara ang kompanya, sa buong mundo naman nangyayari yan,’’ he added.
Año went on and reiterated that jobs will return only if people followed the government’s guidelines against COVID-19.
As of June 22, the Department of Health reported that cases rose to a total of 30,682 with 8,143 recoveries and 1,177 deaths. Of the number of positive cases, 467 were new cases and 163 were backlogs.
The number of individuals who have acquired the deadly disease continued to grow following the government’s order to ease the quarantine restrictions on areas that are still highly risky of COVID-19 transmissions such as Metro Manila.
‘No COVID-19 surge if…’
Critics pointed this out on Twitter and used the DILG chief’s remark “No COVID-19 surge if” which eventually made it to Philippine Trends on Twitter on Sunday.
Rep. Sarah Elago (Kabataan Party-list) enumerated strategies that the government should have done to flatten the curve in the country or prevent the rise of cases.
“No COVID-19 surge if only the Duterte administration truly cared about saving lives, not saving face,” Elago said.
She also shared an infographic of the processes that authorities should have been executing which include mass testing and aggressive contact tracing. The infographic was created by the non-government group called the Coalition for People’s Right to Health.
— Sarah Elago (@sarahelago) June 21, 2020
YouTuber and dermatologist Dr. Winlove Mojica, on the other hand, altered Año’s claim to: “No COVID-19 surge if only the government would focus on effectively doing its job. Sorry, we will try harder.”
Dr. Gene Nisperos, a professor from the University of the Philippines, argued that the public has generally cooperated with the government and those assigned to address the outbreak failed on their responsibilities.
“The public has acted responsibly.
It’s the IATF and those tasked to address COVID-19 who have failed in their responsibilities. Wag ninyong ipasa ang sisi sa taumbayan. Kayo ang dahilan ng kapalpakan,” Nisperos said.
The public has cooperated.It's public officials and PNP and military officers who DO NOT.The public has acted…
Film director Kip Oebanda considered this remark “gas-lighting” or a “form of psychological manipulation,” citing that the Filipinos have been complying for more almost 100 days.
“Lakas maka-gaslight ng 100 days na nagkulong sa bahay ang ordinaryong tao pero kasalanan natin ang 30k cases at di ng gobyerno. Bilyon-bilyon ang budget. Walang maayos na plano sa pagbalik ng mga tao sa trabaho, pero , sa atin ang sisi. Abusive parent lang ang peg,” Oebanda wrote on Twitter.
Perceived gov’t failures
Some Filipinos enumerated the supposed gaps of the government in coping with the global economic and health crisis.
These include President Rodrigo Duterte’s reluctance to declare a temporary travel ban on all flights from China and the health officials’ failure to conduct contact tracing after the first two confirmed cases last February.
They also recalled that the Palace confused the terms mass testing and expanded targeted testing, both of which refer to giving tests to individuals vulnerable of COVID-19.
The public had been urging the health officials to improve and ramp up its testing protocols since March.
no covid-19 surge if the gov't has a concrete plan in controlling the pandemic
no covid-19 surge if the gov't didn't have misplaced priorities
no covid-19 surge if the gov't quickly responded to the ppl's demand to temporarily ban flights from china https://t.co/FdLAxmrxt2
— jp 🏴🚩 (@chikoritangina) June 21, 2020
Twitter user @Punongbayan_ argued that the country experienced the strictest and longest lockdown measures in the world, which would be three months since last March 12. However, the country is not faring well in the battle against the deadly illness.
In a few minutes, 98 days na tayong quarantined. Pinakamahaba sa buong mundo. Patong-patong ang utang. Yung mga bansa sa Southeast Asia na mas mahirap pa sa atin, naka-recover na at bukas na ulit.
— LUCIFER TORRES-GOMEZ (@Punongbayan_) June 21, 2020
Filipino historian stressed that the surge of cases has been predicted by the experts of UP already.
Año’s “No COVID-19 surge if only the public will cooperate” is basically your late 19th century Spanish fraile telling us that it’s our fault why were colonized & oppressed. This surge was predicted by the UP COVID19 Pandemic Response Team. Did gov plan ahead to avoid it? No. https://t.co/cB43hAnZ9O
— Kristoffer Pasion (@indiohistorian) June 22, 2020
Dr. Tony Leachon, the special adviser to the National Task Force against COVID-19, briefly enumerated steps on how the government can solve the crisis.
How to solve covid PH crisis 1. Sense of urgency mindset 2. Real time and granular data 3. Ramp out testings 4. Speed up contact tracings 5. Build up broad guiding coalition 6. Good and inspired leadership and governance 7. Mobilize medical community.
— Tony Leachon MD (@DrTonyLeachon) June 21, 2020
He also highlighted the importance of transparency to the public and a sense of urgency in encouraging public cooperation.
“Without a sense of urgency and good proactive agile public communication, people won’t give extra effort that’s often essential. The people won’t make needed sacrifices. Instead, they will cling to the status quo and might resist initiatives from the IATF or NTF,” Leachon said.
Leachon was last week eased out of his post after he bared some issues involving the public health system online.