One of the governments with the most interesting way of handling the Coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic is the Philippines. While the world was already showing concern over the virus, the Philippines is still permitting flights from places like China noted to be the Ground Zero of the virus. When the number of cases started to multiply, it was only then that the government acted. By March 2020, travel bans were imposed and this was eventually followed by the lockdown couched as “community quarantine”.
So, what makes the Phillipine Covid response interesting? What are the characteristics of the Duterte Administration’s efforts in responding to the current pandemic?
In a country so obsessed with superlatives, here is the news: the Philippines is Number 1 in Southeast Asia in terms of the number of Covid-19 cases, new cases per day in the past few days, and active cases.
When President Rodrigo Duterte announced on July 14 that he destroyed the oligarchy in the Philippines, I tempered my reaction because days later he follows up his statements with a disclaimer, “Nagbiro lang ako naniwala naman kayo.” The he tops it off with his usual “p.i.”
When Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque started distancing himself to the “destroying oligarchy” statement, at least on the angle that the statement is being pointed at the Lopezes of the ABS-CBN, it finally downed on me that the President’s statement is indeed serious. But did he really destroy the Philippine oligarchy?
It is clear: We wasted both the resources and sacrifices in more than 100 days lockdown due to the “Balik Probinsiya” and “Hatid Probinsiya” programs. A number of our government officials are either detached from the reality of implementation or are still stuck in the trial and error phase that the once Covid-free areas now have cases of the dreaded disease.
One of the best tools that could help our officials and decision makers particularly at the local level is the community-based monitoring system (CBMS). It is a tool for formulation, implementation, assessment and monitoring of programs and policies that are specific, targeted and responsive to the needs of each sector of the community. But while it is one of the “must haves”, CBMS data gathering amidst the Covid-19 pandemic is not only insensitive on the plight of its enumerators and respondents but it is also bastardizing the science behind the system.