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Philippines' Failure to Contain the COVID-19 Outbreak

ArnoldZArnoldZ PEx Influencer ⭐⭐⭐
edited March 30 in Local and Foreign Issues

Philippines ignored neighbors' lessons on how to tackle coronavirus

Manila lockdown comes far too late after Duterte tried to placate China

MARCH 18, 2020 14:00 JST
Rodrigo Duterte speaks during an Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases at the Malacanang presidential palace on Mar. 16: the Philippine president has been trying to please China.   © Malacanang Presidential Photographers Division/AP

The Philippine government has taken drastic action. In response to the threat of a coronavirus epidemic outbreak, it has placed the country's capital under a de facto lockdown or, as President Rodrigo Duterte euphemistically said, "enhanced community quarantine."

Metro Manila, home to more than 12 million and the most densely populated urban center on earth, will face unprecedented restrictions on movement of its residents from now at least until April 12. The Philippines is the first country in the region to have placed its administrative and commercial capital under collective quarantine.

Authorities have portrayed it as a preemptive measure against widespread transmission. As many as 75,000 people, they warn, could get infected over the coming months without extreme policies.

But the unprecedented lockdown in fact reflects recklessness and failure on the part of Duterte's administration to nip the crisis in the bud, exactly when it should have been learning from its neighbors. Instead, Duterte has been trying to avoid China's wrath, to the potential detriment of his own people.

To put things into perspective, consider the Philippines' immediate neighbors, both developed and developing, which have largely avoided the need to quarantine major cities so far.

Pedestrians have their temperature checked at a health checkpoint in San Pedro on the outskirts of Metro Manila on Mar. 16: the unprecedented lockdown reflects failure to nip the crisis in the bud.   © Getty Images

Neighbors such as Singapore, Taiwan and Vietnam swiftly implemented preventive measures, which allowed them to skip more draconian steps such as those in China, Italy and, most recently, the Philippines.

Despite their geographic and cultural proximity to China, as the January celebration of the Lunar New Year drew in countless tourists from the mainland, they all managed to largely contain the epidemic.

This was accomplished through a combination of policies such as large-scale public health campaigns, calibrated restrictions on public events and gatherings, deployment of state-of-the-art technology to track and assess the spread of the epidemic, proactive contact tracing to prevent intra-community transmission and regular and transparent communication between top officials and the citizenry.

One important factor, however, was the swift and decisive imposition of travel restrictions to prevent the entry of potentially infected individuals to the country.

Although a global hub and a major tourist destination, Singapore was among the first countries to ban entry of all inbound flights from Wuhan, while subjecting incoming Chinese tourists, especially those with potential symptoms, to detailed health inspections and mandatory quarantine. Three university hostels were rapidly converted to quarantine individuals coming from affected areas in China.

Meanwhile, Taiwan rigorously inspected inbound visitors from China, then quickly suspended flights by four major airlines between Taipei and Wuhan as soon as the epidemic threat became clear.

The Philippines, however, responded with stubborn dismissiveness. Almost two weeks into the Wuhan lockdown, Duterte nonchalantly claimed that "everything is well. There's nothing really to be extra scared of that coronavirus thing" since it will eventually "die on its own."

He asked his people not to be "hysterical" but instead "have faith in humanity," especially since the Filipinos are a "resilient" people. Almost two months into the crisis, this attitude may explain why the Philippines is yet to procure large numbers of test kits to assess the real extent of the crisis.

Ruling out a proactive nationwide campaign to prevent an epidemic outbreak, Duterte and his top officials also hesitated to place travel restrictions on Chinese citizens, even as 135 Wuhan residents came to the Philippines to avoid lockdown at home.

When a number of Filipino senators called on the government to follow in the footsteps of neighboring countries, the Philippine Health Secretary warned about the "political and diplomatic repercussions" of any travel restrictions on China.

As the epidemic turned into a pandemic, incoming flights from China continued despite the imposition of an official ban. Officials claim that the flights only carried Filipinos and permanent residents, but there are reasons to doubt this claim.

The arrival area of the Manila's international airport, pictured on Feb. 3: incoming flights from China continued despite the imposition of an official ban.   © AP

With a recent senate investigation revealing the large-scale illegal entry of Chinese citizens, especially those working in the sprawling and largely shoddy Chinese online casino industry in the Philippines, it is hard to ignore gaping loopholes in the existing travel ban on mainland China.

By keeping the Philippines' doors way open weeks into the emerging pandemic, the Duterte administration recklessly exposed the country to a heightened risk of epidemic. Even if officially the Philippines has a relatively low number of confirmed cases, the true extent of the epidemic threat is largely "underreported," according to one senator, because of that lack of kits.

As Duterte announced a virtual lockdown in Manila, he still could not help but praise the Chinese leadership and said, supposedly to allay fears among his citizens, "if things deteriorate, I may have to call on China to help." It was far from reassuring to many who oppose the president's China-friendly policy.

By blindly prioritizing strategic ties with China and recklessly dismissing the possibility of an epidemic, the Duterte administration has risked an outbreak and been forced to place a megacity on lockdown.


Richard Heydarian is an Asia-based academic, columnist and author of "The Rise of Duterte: A Populist Revolt Against Elite Democracy" and the "The Indo-Pacific: Trump, China and the New Struggle for Global Mastery."


https://asia.nikkei.com/Opinion/Philippines-ignored-neighbors-lessons-on-how-to-tackle-coronavirus


Before looking and talking about other countries' failure to contain COVID-19, look at your own backyard first! Your backyard could be worst and more outrageous!

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Comments

  • ArnoldZArnoldZ PEx Influencer ⭐⭐⭐
    ^^ Every Pinoys. know that he is always after looking good in Xi's eyes!
    But no Pinoy will admit that in the open. The dutards will jump them!
    Moot even coronavirus will open the dutards eyes!
  • Plantation BoyPlantation Boy PEx Influencer ⭐⭐⭐

    Who we trust – and how readily we decide to accept their advice – is a deeply subjective.

  • _knorr__knorr_ PEx Influencer ⭐⭐⭐

    No photo description available
    .                                                   .


  • Plantation BoyPlantation Boy PEx Influencer ⭐⭐⭐
    _knorr_ said:

    No photo description available
    .                                                   .


    462 cases, 33 deaths.       
    Not even close to EJK deaths.

    Sometimes there is something more deadly than COVID-19!



                

  • Juan Plus OneJuan Plus One PEx Influencer ⭐⭐⭐
    edited April 4
    PHILIPPINES

    So far only 5265 people have been tested.  48 tests per 1 million population. 

    136 deaths out of 3018 cases.

    https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/

    Government corruption and incompetence may kill more people than any virus.


  • tambayan102tambayan102 PEx Rookie ⭐
    Total tested already @ 19,000+
  • ArnoldZArnoldZ PEx Influencer ⭐⭐⭐
    edited April 12
    It seems Pilipinos are completely disobeying the lockdown order or not taking the threat of the pandemic seriously.
    Maybe a wake-up call is necessary, like when their favorite celebrity got infected with coronavirus, say their favorite boxer. That would jolt them to reality!
    Balintawak Market full of people on Black Saturday

    Balintawak Market full of people on Black Saturday

    Uploaded on Apr 11, 2020 11:31 am

    Despite social distancing guidelines issued by the government as a measure to prevent the further spread of COVID-19, people flock to the Balintawak Market in Quezon City on Black Saturday, April 11, 2020. MAI BERMUDEZ
    Mai Bermudez
  • Plantation BoyPlantation Boy PEx Influencer ⭐⭐⭐
    That is because they all took the same day to go shopping.. Pass to get out could be scheduled the whole week. Community passes ending in 1 and 2 can gó out on Mondays, 3/4 Tuesdays, 5/6 Wédnesdays, 7/8 Thursdays, 9/10 Fridays, Odd numbers Saturday sndEvrn numbers, Sundays
  • Plantation BoyPlantation Boy PEx Influencer ⭐⭐⭐
    ArnoldZ said:
    It seems Pilipinos are completely disobeying the lockdown order or not taking the threat of the pandemic seriously.
    Maybe a wake-up call is necessary, like when their favorite celebrity got infected with coronavirus, say their favorite boxer. That would jolt them to reality!

    ............,..

    There are already those who are praying for their choice who to get I next..
  • hellraiser2.hellraiser2. PEx Veteran ⭐⭐
    ANO BA YAN, MALAPIT NA TAYONG MAG-TOP (CASES/DEATHS) SA ASEAN?
    Vietnam Cambodia Laos 0
    No photo description available
  • TrollmasterTrollmaster PEx Rookie ⭐
    ANO BA YAN, MALAPIT NA TAYONG MAG-TOP (CASES/DEATHS) SA ASEAN?
    Vietnam Cambodia Laos 0
    No photo description available

    presidente kasi natin parating nagtatago!
  • tambayan102tambayan102 PEx Rookie ⭐
    ANO BA YAN, MALAPIT NA TAYONG MAG-TOP (CASES/DEATHS) SA ASEAN?
    Vietnam Cambodia Laos 0
    No photo description available
    I'm more concerned sa recovered cases. Alarming. We are failing to recover patients. Mas mataas ba ang quality ng heath care sa Brunei at Vietnam kesa sa atin? 
  • ArnoldZArnoldZ PEx Influencer ⭐⭐⭐
    edited April 13

    Cathedral in the Philippines holds Easter service despite national lockdown

    Despite a government lockdown in the Philippines, Catholic worshippers visited St. Peter's Cathedral in Quezon City to pray on Easter Sunday (April 12).

    A Easter procession was conducted, with effigies of holy figures being brought in a pickup truck, and priests and other worshippers praying and worshipping alongside the congregation of vehicles.

    ≠==========

    "Thou shalt not tempt the Lord, thy God"

    Even the Pope celebrated the Easter mass in solitude. What was the QC priest thinking? The money he can collect from the parishioners.

    CBCP should take some action. This should not happen again. Any death that follows from the parishioners is in that priests hand.


  • Plantation BoyPlantation Boy PEx Influencer ⭐⭐⭐
    There was NO mass celebrated.
  • ArnoldZArnoldZ PEx Influencer ⭐⭐⭐
    Stay at home
    No, God will save me
    Social Distance
    No, God will save me
    Wear masks
    No, God will save me
    Wash your hands
    No, God will save me
    Catches COVID-19
    Dies, goes to heaven, meets God:
    Why didn't you save me??
    You only had to do 4 things!!!
  • hsusonhsuson PEx Influencer ⭐⭐⭐
    ^Bwahaha  =)
  • LightKnightLightKnight PExer
    edited April 14
    The govt is stupid, the police arrested a Presbyterian pastor for holding an Easter Sunday service, but they allow wet markets in Balintawak and other places in Metro Manila to be full of people. The govt is discriminating against Christians and the religious.   

    And the same thing is happening in the US, where pro wresting shows and liquor shops are allowed to operate but churches and church services are shut down. 
  • Plantation BoyPlantation Boy PEx Influencer ⭐⭐⭐
    ArnoldZ said:
    Stay at home
    No, God will save me
    Social Distance
    No, God will save me
    Wear masks
    No, God will save me
    Wash your hands
    No, God will save me
    Catches COVID-19
    Dies, goes to heaven, meets God:
    Why didn't you save me??
    You only had to do 4 things!!!
    Funniest post, ever! Because it hits the spot!
  • hellraiser2.hellraiser2. PEx Veteran ⭐⭐
    Thank you China for loving us. :(
    Image may contain 1 person closeup and text
  • Question now is, will our govt lift the quarantine come May 1?   I dont think it can, unless the virus suddenly stops spreading. 

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