COVID-19 response in the Philippines and Taiwan — a tale of two governments

Two things caught my attention in the Twitterverse today: President Tsai Ing-wen’s tweet thanking the recognition of Taiwan’s effort to control the spread of Coronavirus disease (COVID)-19, and the infographic from the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) showing that the Philippines might be acquiring the COVID vaccine only by the second quarter of 2022 to 2023. Both reveal how poorly the Philippines is handling the pandemic. But, just how different really are the COVID-19 responses of Taiwan and the Philippines?

According to Forbes, President Tsai Ing-wen implemented a rigorous contact-tracing program that only seven people died in Taiwan due to COVID-19. The contact tracing started as early as January, the month when the Philippines is still in denial of the existence of the virus in the archipelago. Taiwan also implemented strict border controls and entry policy in the first quarter of 2020 while the Philippines was, in the same period, still welcoming with open arms foreigners especially those coming from Wuhan and the mainland China.

Photo by CDC on
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Do Filipinos need a Department of Disaster Resilience?

On September 21, 2020, the House of Representatives of the Philippines approved on third and final reading House Bill No. 5989 or the Disaster Resilience Act. But, do Filipinos really need such a law?

As published in the 2019 World Risk Index Report, the Philippines is classified as a “very high risk” country for garnering a score of 20.69. This makes the country 9th of the 180 countries in terms of disaster risk. The Report defines risk as “the interaction of hazard and vulnerability, in other words, the interaction of exposure to extreme natural events and the vulnerability of societies”. The concept is based not only on “the occurrence, intensity and duration of extreme natural events, but (also on) social factors, political conditions and economic structures” that are present in a particular country that can mitigate or aggravate said natural events. 

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On March 21, 2018, President Rodrigo Duterte attended and delivered his speech during the Mayor Rodrigo Roa Duterte National Executive Coordinating Committee (MRRD-NECC) National Convention at the Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay City. The MRRD-NECC is a volunteer movement that supports the President’s advocacies including the change to a federal form of government for the Philippines.

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Innovative responses to food security threats under Covid-19

One of the problems highlighted, if not created, by the Coronavirus disease (COVID) -19 pandemic is food insecurity or the lack of access to a sufficient, affordable and nutritious food. The pandemic disrupted the economy and caused unemployment which in turn affected the purchasing power of the people. Further, the community quarantines also affected the transportation systems that the delivery of food supplies from the farms to the consumers were cut or, if not, diverted to areas where local governments are not strict. 

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The Philippine Covid-19 Response

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? 

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