Philippines makes it to int’l headlines with anniversary of ‘one of world’s longest lockdowns’

March 16, 2021 - 7:55 PM
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A signage blocks a street where positive and suspected cases of COVID-19 are identified, in a village under local lockdown, in Pasay, Metro Manila, Philippines, February 25, 2021. (Reuters/Lisa Marie David)

The Philippines’ quarantine measures reached overseas publications, citing the country being placed under one of the world’s longest lockdowns.

Time Magazine and Vice Asia published reports on March 15, which is considered the “lockdown anniversary” in Metro Manila.

On March 12, 2020, President Rodrigo Duterte imposed a 30-day community quarantine over the National Capital Region to help contain the transmission of the virus which causes COVID-19.

The quarantine, which others considered as a lockdown, was supposed to only run from March 15 to April of last year.

The Philippines is still under such restrictions in different phases—the general community quarantine and the modified version.

In its anniversary report, Vice Asia shared on social media its collection of photos of the country under lockdown titled: “A look into one of the world’s longest lockdowns.”

“It’s exactly one year since President Rodrigo Duterte declared Metro Manila and nearby provinces under lockdown to stem the spread of the coronavirus. The lockdown is one of the longest in the world,” read the post.

“Despite the Duterte government’s claim of ‘excellent’ coronavirus response, the pandemic has claimed the lives of nearly 13,000 Filipinos and 621,000 others were infected. The country reported 5,404 new cases on Monday, March 15,” it added.

The latter quote came from presidential spokesperson Harry Roque who assessed that the government’s response to the pandemic was “excellent” despite glaring numbers telling otherwise.

“We were excellent. Na-control po natin ang pagkalat ng sakit lalung-lalo na kung ikukumpara tayo sa mas mayayaman at mga bansa na mas mararami at mas moderno ang mga ospital,” Roque said in a briefing.

READ: Was the Philippines ‘excellent’ in controlling COVID-19 spread? Here’s what numbers say

The publication’s photos featured the jeepney drivers who resorted to beg on the streets following the suspension of mass transport, thus rendering them jobless; Gabriela’s street protest for women’s rights and other photos of Filipinos wearing masks.

 

Time Magazine, meanwhile, released a story titled “Rodrigo Duterte Is Using One of the World’s Longest COVID-19 Lockdowns to Strengthen His Grip on the Philippines” which bares the president’s use of the military and police force to “handle” the public health situation amid confusing policies to the public.

 

William Hartung, the director of the arms and security program at the Washington D.C.-based Center for International Policy, described the current administration’s approach as similar to the bloody drug war.

“The regime has more tools now to crack down on people than when it started. Now, they’ve got a crisis that allows them to tighten its grip on power,” Hartung was quoted as saying.

Prior to this, last March 10, students recalled the class suspension over Metro Manila which was only supposed to last from March 10 to 14, 2020.

March 16 will mark the anniversary of Duterte’s decision to expand the restrictions to the entire Luzon and other provinces in the measure called enhanced community quarantine. This took effect in March 17 last year.