PH Strategy on COVID-19
More questions than answers: Contradictions equal confusion
IN ANY crisis, governments anywhere bear the fundamental responsibility to provide for public needs, and to calm an anxious public with clear and factual information. In the midst of a pandemic, the Duterte administration has appeared quite at a loss about what to do. Early signs indicated their lack of understanding of the seriousness of the threat of the 2019 novel corona virus when it broke out in Wuhan City. This should have signaled a rising danger to Filipinos, with direct flights between Wuhan and Manila cancelled belatedly, along with the large communities of Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGOs) who are Chinese nationals travelling freely to and from China.
On January 29, the president and the secretary of health both said they could not ban the travel or entry of Chinese nationals coming from the city where the disease had begun to rage.
The two days after, presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo announced a sudden change in policy.
The three frames signaled what was wrong from the very beginning. The administration did not fully understand the severity of the threat, and the lack of discussion about what could be done to save the country from the onslaught of the virus was obvious. Early on, resorting to his usual style, Duterte said something about slapping the virus, and that the epidemic would just go away.
But this lack of communication indicates a lack of competence at this high level.
The president’s seven TV presentations since the lockdown have left the public with more questions than answers. Statements of different government officials have been incoherent, indecisive, and at times insensitive about the plight of the people in crisis.
CMFR tracks their statements in the following timeline.
Lockdown or quarantine?
Check points: In or out of Metro?
Guidelines: Prison or physical prevention?
Curfews: Sunrise to sunset?
Protective measures: Local or national?
City transport: Trike or not?
Test Kits: Chinese or not?
Funding: Tall or grande?
Notably, this confusion about funds happened in a single taped message to the public.