On Sunday, February 21, ABS-CBN actor Enchong Dee retweeted a timeline of how the government responded to the Wuhan (COVID-19) virus.
As early as December of 2019, news about Covid-19 has spread all over the world. Despite Filipinos demanding for travel ban, it was only on December 31 when the President decided to halt all foreign travelers from entering the country.
However, the imposition of the ban was only until January 15 the next year.
On January 30, two months after the coronavirus broke out in China, the Philippines had its first case of the deadly virus.
On February 3 (four days later), Duterte downplayed Covid-19 by assuring Filipinos that the virus is not something to fear.
“Everything is well in the country. There’s nothing to be really extra scared of the coronavirus,” Duterte said.
After the first confirmed death caused by the coronavirus, Duterte still encouraged Filipinos (on February 14) to travel around the country despite the alarming casualty brought upon by Covid-19.
Critics have accused the President of miscalculating the lethality of the coronavirus.
Even with the people’s growing unrest, on March 9, Duterte still stood firm. During his weekly televised speech–he even cursed at the virus before questioning its origin while assuring the public that the government has enough money to handle the pandemic.
“Saan ba nakatira yan?” asked Duterte during his speech.
The President’s confidence got boosted because of his allies’ support. He assured the people that the Philippines has enough resources to combat the virus.
After Salvador Panelo, Duterte’s former spokesperson’s statement to the public (March 16)–that bananas can prevent virus spread, it made Filipinos think that eating the fruit is one way to fight coronavirus.
It was also the start of the longest-lockdown in Philippine history.
On March 20, even cabinet secretary Karlo Nograles reiterated that the government has enough funds to deal with Covid-19.
However, the assurance of Nograles, still the cases reached a total of 230 with 18 deaths.
When the Philippines has reached 462 cases on March 23, the following day, March 24, Senate has approved Senate Bill 1481 or “We Heal As One”, which will grant Duterte the emergency powers to handle the coronavirus with full force.
Department of Justice (DOJ) imposed R.A. 1132 that severely punish (even without a warrant) quarantine violators.
Among the violators was Senator Kiko Pimentel, who accompanied his wife to Makati Medical Center to give birth. He hid the fact that he took a coronavirus test and inside the hospital premises–he tested positive. Charges against him were filed–for breaching quarantine protocols.
However, on March 25, DOJ dismissed the complaint against Pimentel, with prosecutors stressing that the senator, being not a health official, is deemed not within the scope of R.A. 1132.
“Senator Koko Pimentel is not a public health authority, therefore, not obliged to report under RA No. 11332. The mandatory reporting under RA No. 11332 was meant for public health authorities only,” said the Prosecutor General.
On a side note, thousands of ordinary citizens got arrested without warrants. They suffered from detention far from what they deserve because of their quarantine violation.
Pimentel’s acquittal, the public’s tirade on injustice became evident. It occurred after DOJ asked the public to be compassionate toward Pimentel’s situation.
After a month, on April 6, the President admitted that the government has no resources left to fight Covid-19. It was contrary to his assurance to the public in the previous months. With his admittance, it became clear that the President misconstrued the detrimental effect of the virus.
With the continuous rise of Covid-19 cases, despite the Philippines ranked as the most compliant in wearing face masks, Harry Roque replaced Panelo as presidential spokesperson scolded Filipinos for being stubborn.
“Nakakahiya na po. Itigil niyo na ‘yang pagiging pasaway,” he said.
After a year of battling the coronavirus, the economy of the Philippines has sunk. Despite being ‘richer’ than Bangladesh, the country got vaccines before the Philippines.
The administration even promised that by February 14, Pfizer and Moderna vaccines would be available. But recently, they admitted that there were delays in the delivery. Bangladesh, on the other hand, had received their vaccines as early as January.
Due to the ineptitude from the very start, Filipinos are now asking the government for a sense of urgency. With lives being lost each day by vaccines being unavailable, the public is seeking the administration to make haste before more lives are lost.