Duterte underscores importance of social distancing

Published March 20, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Genalyn Kabiling 

In this coronavirus pandemic, social distancing is one of the public health tools to slow down its spread.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte delivers a speech during the celebration of the 120-year presence of the Baptist Churches in the Philippines at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City on January 16, 2020. ACE MORANDANTE/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

In his recent public address, President Duterte reminded Filipinos to reduce contact with other people — from friends, strangers to debt collectors — as a precaution against the disease.

“We are imposing the social distance kasi nga ang transmittal tao lang ang pwedeng magbigay ng sakit na ‘yan sa’yo. Hindi anong — walang ibang bagay. Tao ang magbigay sa iyo ng sakit na ‘yan so iwasan mo ang kapwa mo tao (because it be transmitted by people. Only a person can spread the virus so avoid other people),” he said during his taped public address aired early Friday morning.

As the coronavirus can spread from person to person through close contact or respiratory droplets, Duterte asserted that “social intercourse” is “bad at this time.”

“Problema kasi nito, COVID-19 is passable — sa tao lang (The problem is COVID-19 is passable, spread by people) It’s contact. ‘Yung handshake o ‘yung just maybe rubbing each other’s elbow,” he said .

“Just keep your distance from strangers or friends, just so na maputol ‘yung (so we can stop) contamination from A to B, B to C,” he added.

The coronavirus might even be a perfect excuse to hide from debt collectors, according to the President.

“‘Pag magdating ‘yung nagpautang sa iyo, magtago ka na nang husto. Okay ‘yan. Sabihin niya na nagtatago-tago ka.

“Gusto kong bumayad, si COVID ang ayaw (If the debt collector arrives, go hide somewhere. That’s okay. He might say you’re hiding but say ‘I’d like to pay but COVID prevents me from doing so),” he added

Duterte, however, recognized the difficulty in enforcing social distancing in densely packed communities. He asked for prayers that these people will be spared from the disease.

“Kung ‘yung bahay ninyo sa bukid maliliit, eh dikit-dikit kayo, sabayan na lang din natin ng… Ano bang prayer? Ah dasal. Sabayan na lang natin ng dasal na tutulungan ‘yung mga tao, mga Pilipino na hindi — they are not in a position — wala sa kanilang kakayahan na magsunod ng mga social standing (If your houses are in the fields, they are small and you are close to each other, then let’s offer a prayer so people are assisted. They are not in a position, they can’t follow social distancing),” he said.

The President has declared a State of Public Health Emergency and State of Calamity in the country amid the sharp increase of cases of coronavirus.

Luzon is currently under enhanced community quarantine to stem the spread of the disease. As part of the stringent social measures, residents are mandated to stay indoors while public transportation has been suspended. Companies are urged to adopt work-from-home arrangements while travel restrictions have been imposed.