Sit down, talk to & listen to the experts

Published August 4, 2020, 11:05 PM

by Atty. Gregorio Larrazabal


Yesterday, Metro Manila and nearby provinces reverted to a higher level of quarantine, the Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ).  This came after the joint statement of 80 different medical societies in the Philippines last week asking to “reimplement stricter lockdown measures in the capital in order that frontliners could recalibrate their anti-coronavirus strategies.

Based on the news reports, during the conference, Dr. Maricar Limpin, Vice President of the Philippine College of Physicians (PCP), said that their recommendations are not just for a community quarantine.  She said “Kailangan natin diyan ang isang extensive, comprehensive na stratehiya para mas epektibo nating makontrol ang spread ng COVID-19 infection. Kailangan isang direksiyon lang ang kapupuntahan ng bawat isa,” (We need an extensive, comprehensive strategy for a more effective control of the spread of the COVID-19 infection. We should have a singular direction).

I think that’s what should be focused on now, instead of just increasing the quarantine level.  Because if we simply revert back to MECQ, without changing our strategy (or whatever tactic that was used before), the country will be like a fly continually hitting a glass window trying to get out of a room, instead of trying to find the open door. 

Quoting the news reports from ABS-CBN, Dr. Limpin added that “the implementation of health measures does not only lie on local government units but needs the guidance from the Department of Health.”  I think that’s the crux of the matter.  There seems to be no unified approach by the national government in this pandemic.  There have been battles won at the local level, but in order to thrust the country forward, we need a comprehensive, implementable, and realistic plan of action.  That’s where the medical experts come in.  That’s why me need to take time to sit down, talk to, listen, and understand what the experts are saying.  I understand they are medical experts advising the task force, but they should be given a bigger say in decision-making.

We’re battling the virus, and we’re not at war with fellow Filipinos; we shouldn’t be.  We should know who the real enemy is.  But the way some plans have been implemented, it seems some think the enemies are Filipinos, not SARS-CoV-2.  We can’t kill the virus with guns and bombs.  We can’t use a hammer to squash it.  We need to remember that our enemy is the virus.  The best people to ask about this are the medical experts who will give objective, honest, and fact-based advice.  Officials should be told what they NEED to hear, not what they want to be told. 

Repeatedly, our medical professionals have been hailed as heroes.  However, as of last week, over 4,500 doctors, nurses, and other health care workers have contracted the disease. WHY?  We have to ask why this happened and why it is still happening.  So we go back to the basics.  Are they being provided the supplies they need?  Are they provided sufficient PPEs and other requirements? Are the supplies they are using of good quality?    If they’re our heroes who save the lives of Filipinos 24/7, they should be treated as such.

Dr. Limpin also issued an appeal to fellow Filipinos to strictly follow minimum health protocols.  This include wearing masks PROPERLY and observing physical distancing.  Religiously following health protocols while in public will aid in curbing the spread of the disease. I’ve seen so many people use masks as chin guards or use masks without covering their nose.

Right now, we need to maximize this 2-week window.  We can’t keep on sliding back.  Because the economy is taking an extreme hit now.  Many businesses have already closed, some for good. 

I’d like to point out something too.  People say it’s a choice between life and the economy.  Why go to that extreme?  Can we not save both?  Are we not able to strike a balance and multi-task?  We should be able to listen to the medical experts and help save lives, while also trying to keep the economy afloat. 

It’s a tall order, and for some, they’ll balk at the seemingly impossible task.  But if other countries can do it, why can’t we?  We just need to try HARDER.

Stay safe. Stay healthy.  Wear a mask properly.