On Thursday, President Rodrigo Duterte ordered a community quarantine in all areas of Luzon, which basically is another word for “lockdown”, announced and declared public and live on March 15, and had stated that it will be ensued up to April 14.
When ABS-CBN had already beat the President down to announcing a lockdown measure, everyone was panicking, rushing to malls or supermarkets to hoard whatever they can. Hygiene items and canned goods sections were nearly empty. President Duterte’s public speech at the time seemed to be what residents are waiting for with bated breath.
Repetitive and ambiguous, the address provided by the President didn’t ease the residents’ mind and were left even more dumbfounded at how exactly the lockdown measures instill “peace and order” in the region, how it would be implemented, and how they would address the needs of Filipinos who are unable to work remotely or access hospitals.
Community quarantine may either be a softer version of a lockdown in trying to assess the situation or a muddled mess misunderstood lockdown. Duterte’s own cabinet secretaries pushed back on aspects of the community quarantine measures last Friday that rendered it possible that up to 2 million people could enter and leave Metro Manila every day.
“Every agency has its own interpretation of what happened [Thursday] night,” said Gene Nisperos, an assistant professor at the University of the Philippines Manila College of Medicine. “People are confused.”
President Duterte’s decision to deploy police and military to enforce quarantine measures, which he emphasized was “not martial law”, was bashed by Filipinos. For them, it wasn’t safe and secure, much less even reasonable, demanding that more medical frontliners should be deployed and kept people in check. President Duterte clarified in the statement, though, that the deployment of enforcers and military were meant to ensure that every citizen is following the orders properly. However, antsy and angry citizens, specifically concentrated students, would have none of it.
University of the Philippines students hold a rally at Palma Hall at the UP campus in Quezon City on Friday, September 21, 2018, commemorating the 1972 #MartialLaw proclamation. Photo by Darren Langit/Rappler pic.twitter.com/fOqljI4fnD
— Rappler (@rapplerdotcom) September 21, 2018
“You cannot just enforce a cure,” Nisperos said. “You cannot use the power of the gun to mitigate the spread of the disease. But this is what we’re looking at now.”
By March 17, President Duterte had declared enhanced quarantine measures, which is basically the actual “lockdown” ensued throughout Luzon. It wasn’t as crystal-clear like the previous, but implementation was progressive, if not clearly defined. Various hotlines amidst quarantine measures and other coronavirus-related concerns and emergencies were handed out across social media and news sites, follow-up guidelines, such as “one per house” policy, were implemented.
Still, people are still on edge and being quarantined for a whole month may not help the case either, but inevitably, it could have been for the best in the meantime. Still, it was a disaster from the beginning and onto the next.