Now Or Never

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The daily routine of the common Filipino no longer includes mornings of getting ready for a day at school or a long shift at work. Instead, they are met with mornings wondering how they will be able to put food on the table; mornings wondering when they can revert back to a lifestyle of normalcy and stability. The public can no longer rely on wishful thinking when brute force is the solution to the pandemic in the minds of those in power. The question lingering on everyone’s minds is: What now? What should be done?

President Duterte proposed in his briefing on April 16 to implement a lockdown order similar to martial law. Less than a week later, PNP Chief Archie Gamboa announced that police officials will immediately arrest quarantine violators with no warning.

The president assures that enforcing a total lockdown with this ruling does not enforce a power struggle. Various leaders have also reiterated that violence will not be tolerated in lieu of enforcing security. However, the treatment shown to many individuals by the police and military personnel has citizens acting in fear rather than trust.

Winston Ragos, an ex-military official, was shot twice by the police last Tuesday afternoon. He was not violating any quarantine protocols, but was suspected of pulling out a pistol from his bag. Even with the protests of various witnesses saying he has no firearms and that he should be properly searched first, Master Sergeant Daniel Florendo Jr. went on to shoot him with no hesitation. Instead of peacefully resolving the situation, violence was the solution that was deemed most befitting by the people we ought to trust and protect us.

What the government fails to realize is that the lack of discipline is not brought about by a simple drive to rebel– it is the various factors that threaten people’s living conditions that push them to go through large lengths to survive. In Winston Ragos’ case, he was mentally ill and was unable to purchase the medications he needed, further worsening his condition. Couple this with the slow allocation of funds into testing, research, and supplying every family financial aid, and there will be little to no progress in rebuilding a future that everyone can become a part of.

It has been proven time and time again that inducing fear through heavy measures of control is not the primary solution that should be adopted by the Philippines to overcome the coronavirus. Countries such as South Korea, Taiwan, and Mainland China have successfully flattened the curve and even reverted back to their normal lifestyles while still abiding by social distancing measures. Their system of recovering from the pandemic relied on speedy and aggressive testing, tracing, and containing through utilizing various technologies and coordinating with specialists.  There is an urgent need to meet these three conditions, while meeting the needs of the public for basic sustenance, to ease the country’s way back to normal.

In the end, if the public’s needs and proper solutions are not met,  the only future set in stone for us is chaos–one that can easily take the country back to square one.