Realizations After the First 30 Days of Luzon-wide ECQ

The COVID-19 situation brought the good and the bad out of Filipinos. Despite the situation not being easy, it seems that most Filipinos are still able to weather the storm, although many, especially displaced workers from small businesses, senior citizens and the real "poorest of the poor", need assistance that they can get not only from the government but even from their countrymen who happen to have extra at this time.

As of this writing, the Luzon-wide Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) that is being implemented by the government to prevent the spread of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) has been extended for two more weeks, scheduled to end on April 30, 2020. As of April 15, 2020, there are 5,453 COVID-19 positive cases throughout the Philippines, with 349 patients dying from the disease while 353 being able to recover. The health care system of the country is already feeling the effects of the global pandemic, with some doctors and other "front-liners" dying from the disease, contracting the virus or placed under quarantine after being exposed to patients whom they are attending and taking care of.

Thirty days of being confined at home for 24 hours straight most of the time and with limited time to go out primarily to buy badly needed food supplies and medicine or withdraw money from the bank automated teller machines were not easy for most of us, as Filipinos are fond of socializing with each other and enjoying the outdoors. Further complicating things was the limited funds and even food supplies of many of our countrymen, no thanks to most work places and businesses stopping operations to protect their workers and comply with the law being implemented by the government. Despite the situation not being easy, it seems that most Filipinos are still able to weather the storm, although I admit that many, especially displaced workers from small businesses, senior citizens and the real "poorest of the poor", need assistance that they can get not only from the government but even from their countrymen who happen to have extra at this time.

 

The COVID-19 situation brought the good and the bad out of Filipinos. Let us begin with the good, as the need to assist doctors, nurses, policemen, soldiers and other "front-liners" who are working to protect the nation from an unseen enemy and keep the economy running, and those who do not have enough food supplies, medicines and funds to go through 30 days or so of ECQ brought back the "bayanihan spirit", with individuals, large companies and organizations working on to provide food, personal protective equipment (PPE) and other things that may be needed at this time. We see government and the private sector once again working together despite the uncertainties being posed by the COVID-19 situation to everyone. This is also the first time in years that Filipinos value and pay tribute to the work and the sacrifices of doctors, nurses and other health care workers to protect and defend communities from the threat coming from the dangerous and highly contagious pathogen. The situation also revealed that Filipinos are resilient and, if we are referring to homemade TikTok videos and jokes on social media, still have some sense of humor at a time of crisis.

 

Unfortunately, the COVID-19 situation highlighted mostly the bad out of Filipinos. There are still those who deliberately violate ECQ rules by staying outside of their homes and traveling to places outside of their immediate locales for non-essential purposes, a clear defiance of the rule of law and of the government, and a display of lack of regard for the welfare of their loved ones and communities and sense of personal responsibility and accountability. Social distancing rules are not being observed, especially at marketplaces where large crowds of people gather to shop for food and other supplies and even in communities where the usual "chismisan" and "tambayan" still happen, up to a point that some barangays even openly hold boxing matches and gambling activities on the sidewalks and the streets. It simply shows how sorely lacking Filipinos are when it comes to discipline, sense of personal responsibility and accountability, sense of community, and regard for the welfare of others, which convinces me even more that the current Western-style liberal democratic system in place is not compatible to the kind of country and people that we are and that we are better off being a center-right to right-wing benevolent dictatorship or totalitarian state to force us to straighten up and become more mature.

 

The extension of the ECQ for 14 more days may lead to more realizations about the Philippines, its government and its people. The goal of the ECQ is still to flatten to curve by staying at home to protect ourselves, our loved ones, our communities and our "front-liners." We should not blow that opportunity, or we suffer from the consequences of our actions and decisions during a time where the country faces a virtual war-like situation, this time against an unseen enemy, a virus that causes COVID-19, for a long time.

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About the Author
Benedict is an agricultural economist, academician and writer. He has gained experience and expertise in various fields of economics, business, political science and public relations after through professional ventures in the academe, and in the public and private sectors. He has authored or co-authored key publications on topics ranging from agriculture and food security to global affairs and politics.
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