TRUST the social media to sow confusion.
Mainstream media reported Tuesday night that quarantine passes were suspended effective ten o’clock that same night. A copy of an order issued by the Cebu City Police Director, P/Col. Cyril Tamayo that somehow landed in the hands of people other than the intended recipients and circulated via the Internet said as much: the passes have been suspended upon instruction of Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año.
That should have been clear enough. But some people (I hope the police will find them) interpreted it to mean that the entire city has been placed under a lockdown that was more severe than the enhanced community quarantine that President Duterte already prescribed for Cebu City.
Soon, Facebook, Messenger and other media platforms were inundated with reports on the supposed city-wide lockdown along with expressions of concern about how the poor will be able to survive under those circumstances. I do not know how the distinction between rich and poor came into the equation; when no one is allowed to go out even to buy the basic necessities, everybody starves, whether he has money or not.
I found out how eschewed our thinking had become because of the rumors that were spread by social media after I wrote on Facebook that there was no point in getting upset so why didn’t we just all go to sleep and see what happens in the morning. Someone scolded me for being smug because I was an attorney who had the means to wait for tomorrow. As if anyone can die of starvation because he was not able to do his groceries for the following morning!
The fact is that as of June 16, we were already on ECQ. Our movement has been restricted since that date, in fact, since the imposition of the GCQ in the third week of March. The suspension of the passes merely reminded us that we were supposed to stay home. There is no lockdown. There are no additional restrictions.
What was taken away from us was our right to use our passes to go out. It causes inconvenience, no doubt about it, but it is not permanent. The suspended passes will eventually be recalled and new ones will be issued under circumstances that will prevent their being abused.
The cancellation of the passes was already agreed upon in principle between Mayor Edgar Labella and the national IATF Tuesday afternoon. Año, however, hastened its implementation by suspending the passes after they found out when they made the rounds of the local hospitals later that day that people continued to converge outside, many of them not wearing a mask despite the ECQ.
It was a classic military maneuver: shock and awe. The sudden cancellation of the passes sent shock waves across the community. Hopefully, that made us more law-abiding The downside was that it opened a window for the naughty and the malicious to sow confusion among the people via the social media.
Let me offer this unsolicited advice: just stay at home so we can contain the coronavirus and live normal lives again.