Editorial: Value of being clear

BEFORE President Rodrigo Duterte went on air to address the nation about the government’s response to the Covid-19, other officials have decided that “lockdown” is the wrong word.

These officials took the effort to push “community quarantine” instead of that other word based on the fear that the word “lockdown” would only increase the public’s anxiety over the spread of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19).

It became a different matter when Duterte went before the cameras Thursday night, March 12, 2020, to talk to the nation about quarantine and lockdown. A transcript of his statement showed this part:

“Ayaw naming gamitin yan. Kasi takot kayo sabihin lockdown. But it’s a lockdown. There is no struggle of power here. Walang away dito, walang gyera. It is just a matter of protecting and defending you from Covid-19.” (We didn’t want to use it. You are scared that we will say lockdown. But it’s a lockdown. There is no struggle for power here. There is no conflict, no war. It is just a matter of protecting and defending you from the Covid-19.)

He went on to explain the details on what “community quarantine” meant and the criteria for local government units to declare their own actions, whether quarantine or lockdown.

A lockdown is defined as an emergency measure or condition to temporarily prevent people from entering or leaving an area. With the suspension of domestic flights and sea travel to or from Metro Manila starting Sunday until 30 days after, Metro Manila is isolated from the rest of the country.

But some government officials and citizens take exception to the use of the word “lockdown” and insist it is not so.

With the health emergency continuing to worsen daily, it is important for government to be clear in its message and for its officials to be united in its stand so the public can respond adequately.

As people struggle with the Covid-19 scare, government must speak as one and be clear on what to say.