Use of fear as COVID-19 measure: Checkpoint officials set up grim reaper figure in Rizal

April 20, 2021 - 11:43 AM
Grim reaper in checkpoint
A grim reaper display in the checkpoint on San Mateo, Rizal situated by the boundary of Quezon City. (The STAR/Boy Santos)

A grim reaper display at a checkpoint reminded residents of San Mateo, Rizal to stay at home as COVID-19 cases continue to increase in the country.

The display, which features the figure associated with death, carries a board containing the text: “Stay at home? Or come with me?”

It is situated at the boundary San Mateo shares with Quezon City.

Both places are under the second strictest lockdown phase, which is the modified enhanced community quarantine.


As of Monday, the country recorded a total of 945,745 COVID-19 cases wherein more than 140,000 people are active cases.

The total death count has breached the 16,000th mark.

Some Filipinos aired their comments against the police’s display of the grim reaper figure in the checkpoint.

“Wala na kayong ginawa kundi manakot! Pulis walang kwenta,” a Twitter user said in response to the pictures.

“@pnppio Diyan kayo magaling. Manakot,” another online user wrote.

A member of the Student Christian Movement of the Philippines likewise denounced the police’s initiative and said that “fear-mongering is not the way to go.”

“Fear has never been a great motivator. At kung takot at takot lang din ang pag-uusapan, mas takot ang mamamayan sa mga bala ng estado kesa Covid. Trahedyang realidad sa kamay ni Duterte,” Tristan Buenaflor tweeted.

This was not the first time that the police used scare tactics to enforce protocols during the COVID-19 pandemic.

At the first month of the Luzon-wide lockdown last year, checkpoint authorities in Pampanga set up coffins and skull displays to discourage people from going out of their homes.

COVID-19 does not have any specific treatment yet, except for vaccines.

A 2020 journal in theĀ National Center for Biotechnology Information speculates that scare tactics are done this pandemic based “on the utilitarian principle of doing what best promotes the greatest benefit for the greatest number.”

“On the other hand, an argument premised on a Kantian, rights-based moral philosophy might say that if these tactics violate certain moral and legal rights that people hold inviolable, then such appeals are morally inappropriate,” the study noted.

The study’s editors said that a global health threat such as COVID-19 “requires collaborative health actions from different sectors from around the world.”

“And they called for a strong public health response to combat this pandemic. Whether this call extends to the use of scare tactics is something that the public should morally examine,” they added.