The Role of the Influential and Influencers in pandemic times

The Influential and Influencers exist because much of the public supports their talents, causes and abilities. Hence, influencers and people who are influential collectively have a responsibility to guide and motivate compliance to established rules and regulations, particularly those that protect and safeguard the health and well-being of the public. 

The controversies surrounding the parties organized for or by Tim Yap and Raymond Gutierrez during this pandemic reveal the inability of so-called 'influencers' to police their own ranks when it comes to staging social gatherings. Appearances of public officials in these gatherings also complicate matters further when it comes to implementing pandemic protocols. Overall, the above actions have significantly affected the public's confidence in supporting the conduct of social gatherings as part of efforts to revitalize the country's ailing economy.

The conduct of social gatherings is governed by the rules and regulations set forth by the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF). The IATF has put in place measures to ensure the health and safety of the public especially in the conduct of mass or social gatherings.

At present, social gatherings are limited to a certain percentage of a venue's seating capacity based on the quarantine classification of the area where the venue is situated. The current capacity limitations imposed on gatherings are intended to minimize the possibility of transmission, especially in enclosed spaces. Moreover, social distancing measures are mandated to be strictly observed regardless whether attendees of social gatherings are tested prior to the event or under any community quarantine classification.

At face value, meeting the capacity limitations are quite manageable especially if venues require guests to pre-register prior to the event. It allows organizers or hosts to control the number of people attending a particular allowable event. However, it is difficult to police the behavior and tendencies of guests especially during the conduct of the actual gathering events. Due to some people's heightened emotions during an event, some tend to forget the established social distancing protocols and inadvertently violate them. This is where the Influential and Influencers should come in to stamp their authority and remind everybody of their social gathering responsibilities.

Overall, influencers and high-ranking officials play a critical role in ensuring the public's compliance on government rules and regulations, particularly on the implementation of health and safety protocols and guidelines. Any perceived breach or violation by an influencer or a high-ranking official puts a dent on the credibility of the government to implement such protocols. Further, their purported irresponsibility puts the economic well-being of business owners and event organizers at risk of either being temporarily or permanently shut down.

There is no place for carelessness and complacency when it comes to observing and following COVID-19 protocols as lives of many are at stake. There should also be no sacred cows as far as disciplining erring individuals or groups are concerned. 

The Influential and Influencers exist because much of the public supports their talents, causes and abilities. Hence, influencers and people who are influential collectively have a responsibility to guide and motivate compliance to established rules and regulations, particularly those that protect and safeguard the health and well-being of the public. Otherwise, they deserve no less than the backlash they have been receiving from citizens and netizens alike.

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About the Author
Mr. Aaron Benedict De Leon is currently a Business Development Practitioner in a private consulting firm. He has more than six years of professional experience in leading and managing political and non-government organizations, specializing in organizational management, policy development and program management. He has had stints with notable political/socio-civic organizations, serving in various capacities as: Secretary-General of the Centrist Democratic Party of the Philippines (CDP) [2013-2015], Founding Chairperson of the Centrist Democratic Youth Association of the Philippines (CDYAP) [2012-2014], Philippine Representative to the International Young Democrat Union (IYDU) [2011-2012], Chairperson of the Christian Democratic Youth [2011-2012], Secretary-General of YOUTH Philippines [2010-2011], and Spokesperson/Communications Director of the GT2010 Gilbert Teodoro Presidential Campaign [2009-2010].
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