As Filipinos deal with the continuing COVID-19 pandemic and adjust to the reopening of the economy, they are distracted by so-called alternative cures and public debates on the problems of the health sector as the health of everyone and their family remained the top concern during the period of global pandemic as shown by their social media engagements.
Big data analysis of close to 300 million posts by Filipinos in Facebook from Sept. 1 to Nov. 30 this year conducted by the political consultancy firm BluePrint.PH (www.blueprint.ph) and its Singapore-based Data Mining and Artificial Intelligence partner firm indicated that the government may have to work extra hard to convince people it is not wasting money and that people must get themselves vaccinated.
Eero Brillantes, BluePrint.PH chief executive and a veteran social and political issues management expert and author of the 2020 book “Campaign Management for Politics and Social Change”, says a free—wheeling discussion on the efficacy of the anti-COVID 19 vaccines being developed by pharmaceutical companies and concerns over corruption issues undercut the messaging that the government and private sector are working hard to produce a medical solution to solve the global pandemic.
Brillantes says despite their concern for their health during the pandemic, the Filipinos’ posts in Facebook indicated an “emerging undercurrent between Western treatment and natural treatment.”
On the issue of health, public support for the government’s plan to get as much as 70 percent of the population vaccinated against COVID-10 when the vaccines become available is hampered by counter-stories of natural cures or treatment, Brillantes said.
“The use of natural/ common treatment seems to undercut the COVID vaccine message. Most of the COVID treatment is being spun as motivation for hospitals to make money, reinforced by the PhilHealth implosion,” Brillantes said.
Brillantes was referring to the series of negative developments that reduced public confidence in the entire top and middle-level management of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. as corruption issues forced many of them to resign amid a full-blown Senate investigation.
An indication that Filipinos really see the issue as a major concern is shown by the 150 million Facebook posts, likes, shares and comments they made from Sept. 1-Nov. 30, BluePrint.PH’s CEO noted.
Facebook is the dominant social media network patronized by Filipinos, according to media use data from the advertising and polling industries.
Brillantes said public officials concerned with managing the response to the spread of the pandemic in the country must be guided by transparency and efficiency in resource management, particularly in their statements on how the vaccine would be acquired and distributed to the target population.
“Any policy will be severely cross-examined, but the level of support and opposition is expected to be equal, unless it is to eradicate waste and corruption,” Brillantes said.
He says public anger towards corruption issues and other problems in the health sector that the Senate investigation into Philhealth means that there is “no room for effective counter-factual messaging (from the government and Philhealth management) (as the) only publicly acceptable action would be reform.”
Filipinos were also concerned over the issues affecting education, especially of their children, with module distribution problems and the late opening and subsequent confusion in the schedule of private and public schools affecting their view of the government, particularly the Department of Education.
Big data analysis also showed the government may have miscalculated the positive impact of its disaster response and management in focusing on the issue of relief goods distribution, with negative posts rising when President Rodrigo Duterte launched a diatribe against Vice-President Leni Robredo.