Unlike leaders in the United States and European countries, our government does not have to deal with nonsense from the population in the midst of a pandemic. We have no vocal groups that moronically equate mask-wearing to a diminution of their personal freedoms, no idiots who view vaccine passports as an invasion of their privacy, or woefully misinformed imbeciles who believe that COVID-19 is a hoax staged by George Soros and that vaccines are part of a plot by Bill Gates to “microchip the world.”
As a rule, Filipinos are more reasonable—and compliant. In the past, this has worked to our disadvantage, believing during the martial law years that we needed to sacrifice personal liberty for progress.
But in a pandemic, compliance is a blessing. Most Filipinos understand that we are in the middle of a health crisis and are willing to comply with government guidelines to protect themselves and their families. We understand that.
Which is why it is disheartening to see the haphazard response to the pandemic, which is fueled by the highly infectious Delta variant of COVID-19.
The jury is still out on whether we really needed another hard lockdown, as researchers—who by and large are not epidemiologists—have urged. But having decided to follow the recommendation, government officials owe it to us to think things through before making any announcements.
For example, the government announced this week that it is opening its vaccination drive to anyone, 18 years and older, in the National Capital Region (NCR) during the two-week lockdown starting Aug. 6 to achieve a wider coverage of Metro Manila’s population.
But the Department of Health (DOH) said that “walk-ins,” or those who have not registered ahead of time, would not be allowed to prevent people from crowding vaccination sites in the capital.
Clearly, those who added this proviso have never tried staying up until dawn to register online for a vaccination shot. In fact, it contradicts or nullifies the initial announcement.
It is difficult enough to cope with a vaccine shortage; now we have to contend with bureaucratic restrictions that make it difficult for those who want a jab to get one.
In another instance, the government announced that it would provide cash assistance of up to P4,000 to the millions of families who would be affected by the lockdown—then in the same breath said it was still looking for funding to be able to do so.
None of this bolsters public confidence in our pandemic response. Certainly, after the sacrifices we have all made with little complaint, we deserve better.