‘Pasaway’ Pinoys deserve more blame for COVID surge than the variants, says consumer group head

Published April 1, 2021, 6:19 PM

by Ellson Quismorio

The leader of a pro-science consumer advocacy group said it’s premature at best to blame the entry of new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) variants in the country for the alarming surge in active cases, which began early last month.

Residents queue up to enter a market in Manila on March 28, 2021, after the Philippines announced that more than 24 million people in and around Manila will go into lockdown next week as hospitals struggle to cope with a surge in COVID-19 coronavirus infections. (Photo by Jam STA ROSA / AFP)

Angelo Palmones, president of the Alyansa ng mga Grupong Haligi ng Agham at Teknolohiya Para sa Mamamayan (AGHAM), told the Manila Bulletin on Maundy Thursday, April 1 that there’s simply not enough evidence or technical study to back up the claim.

“Wala tayo empirical data on those eh (We don’t have empirical data on those). The new variants are all still under study,” he said.

As if undergoing reflection this Holy Week, Palmones said the most logical reason for the case surge is the “pasaway” or disobedient nature of some Filipinos, particularly when it comes to the observance of minimum public health standards (MPHS).

This includes the non-wearing of face mask and face shields, disregarding physical distancing, and insistence on performing non-essential task outdoors.

“I think it’s more on the public’s carelessness and disobedience. You can observe that in most wetmarkets and public areas,” the AGHAM president and former congressman reckoned.

“Public transport like passenger jeeps and tricycles did not strictly observe the physical distancing after we moved to GCQ (general community quarantine) from ECQ (enhanced community quarantine),” he further noted.

It was only last Monday, March 29, that the National Capital Region (NCR) along with the nearby provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal were again placed under ECQ–the strictest lockdown protocol. The ECQ implementation is supposed to last one week only, at least based on the initial Palace pronouncement.

There are close to 139,000 active COVID-19 cases in the Philippines as of Thursday afternoon.

There are at least four supposed mutations of the new coronavirus in the country: B117, the United Kingdom variant; B1351, the South African variant; P1, the Brazilian variant; and P3, the first variant discovered in the Philippines.

It has been suggested by experts that some of the mutations have increased transmissibility.