Band-aid solutions

Published April 14, 2021, 12:09 AM

by Atty. Gregorio Larrazabal


Atty. Gregorio Larrazabal

I delayed writing this article in the hopes of being proven wrong about the quarantine restrictions, and how it’ll be announced and implemented.  I and many others were hoping that the new quarantine restrictions would be announced early, the details of which would be released, and agencies would all be informed of the particulars of the guidelines and restrictions. So, there’d be a proper and uniform implementation for the population affected.

However, it seems it was more of the same, albeit, this time, the quarantine restrictions released was for a period of two weeks, instead of the recent one-week validity announcements.  The quarantine level was announced Sunday afternoon, to be effective Monday morning.  When the less-restrictive restrictions were announced (Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine) Sunday afternoon, there were no accompanying details released.  It was just an announcement of the level of quarantine.  The details were released only Monday.  Even late Monday afternoon, some of the restrictions weren’t finalized.  An example of which is with regards the curfew hours. While the Metro Manila Mayors Council announcing it would be 8 p.m.-5 a.m., the Philippine National Police announced that it would still be 6 p.m.-5 a.m., because they weren’t officially informed of the new guidelines.  This was later reconciled, but it begs people to ask, why did it take over 24 hours for agencies to be informed of the new guidelines?  Are these not discussed BEFORE being announced?  Aren’t agencies consulted, informed, advised and brought in for deliberation?  I wrote about this before: The late announcements, the seeming lack of prior coordination for national concerns, and the glaring modifications-on-the-go.

I hope people understand that businesses need to plan their activities.  This isn’t a small mom & pop operation or a sari-sari store, where they can open their businesses the minute you tell them.  Many of the medium and big businesses need time to prepare to restart their operations. They have to fix their logistics, plan their personnel deployment, order supplies, etc.  It’s not likethe movies where you simply snap your fingers, and everything magically falls into place.  In the real world, it takes a lot to get things moving.  People want to get their businesses moving. We need to jumpstart the economy, but planning is key to make that happen.  Making late and haphazard announcements is like sending someone to a fight, with on hand tied behind his back.  That should stop.  Things can and must be done much better.

It’s like déjà vu.  Because it seems we haven’t improved much in terms of planning, messaging and implementation, over one year after the pandemic started.  Aside from the late announcements, there’s still confusion when quarantine restrictions are disseminated and implemented.  Not only on the part of the public, but sadly, also on the part of the implementing government agencies.

What makes it even more tragic is that the doctors themselves have lamented on the inability to maximize the use of the quarantine.  In a statement, the Healthcare Professionals Alliance Against COVID-19 (HPAAC) said the two-week enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) was “wasted” since the long-term changes necessary to prevent another surge of COVID-19 cases were not implemented.  The HPAAC said “the government still has no clear plans and efforts to fix the root causes and the nation continues to suffer because of this”.

Things can and must be done better.  We can learn several things by simply looking at what our ASEAN neighbors have been doing.

Stay Safe.  Stay Healthy.  Please say a prayer for people who died because of COVID-19.