A Solomonic decision – Duterte opts for one that protects the health of the people

Published May 5, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin


Elinando B. Cinco
Elinando B. Cinco

The President was given by the Inter-Agency Tast Force on COVID-19 (IATF) two options last April 21. It was a tough decsion for him to make, the Chief Execcutive admitted later.

His goal was to keep the almost 15 million Metro Manila residents safe and free from the deadly virus.
His painful decision was to extend the Enhanced Community Quarantine up to May 15. The gloomy business landscape in the Natrional Capital Region soaked further down to almost a semi-disaster.

“I don’t mind a sagging economy, as long as the health of my people is protected,” he loves to say.

No doubt, it was an “unpopular” decision, with the adverse economic repercusions. No amount of substantial cash amelioration support promised by the Administration would appease the public.

In his subsequent live TV addresses, the President said that by prolonging the government’s program of combating the virus up to May 15, “we may be able to flatten thecollective statistics curve about COVID-19.”

It was clear the the Duterte strategy was to let “science” fight the pandemic so that the people are given a better chance to live longer and be more productive to society, and most of all, to their families.

Then last April 28, the President announced a “modified” version of the ECQ. He calls it the General Community Quarantine, or “GCQ.”

In essence, this means the reopening of non-essental goods and services, and partially allowing the services of public transport, all adhering to social distancing observance of at least two meters.

Initially, this announcement was good news to businessmen and investors.The just-finished lockdown for six weeks was a big dent on their enterprise with revenue losses running into hundreds of millions of pesos.

It was also a satisfsying news and a boon to the working classes: Those who are subject to the so-called no-work-no-pay employment contract; those who are paid on a daily basis; and to those who do “sariling sikap”(are self-employed.)

All of the above means the loosening of restrictions, but strict compliance with the previously implemented tenets – wearing of face masks once outside one’s residence; physical distancing between persons of at least two meters; obsesrving the utmost personal hygienic practice, like the vigorous washing of hands with soap and water,especialy when coming home from outsde one’s residence.