I will be honest: I’m privileged. My parents have the kind of jobs that allow them to work from home or take a leave if necessary. My school has announced that classes are suspended until April 15 with no online classes. I should be happy, right? I have the time to spend with family, to binge on Netflix, and to just mooch around the house. The thing is, I’m worried for the other Filipinos out there. You can take away almost everything from them, but you can never take from them their will to earn a living. Many Filipinos, as you can see from the news, are ignoring the government’s advice to follow social distancing and to stay home, simply because they need to put food on the table, pay bills, and pay for their children’s needs.
Not all Filipinos have jobs that provide benefits. Not all Filipinos have enough savings in case of an emergency. Not all Filipinos have their own modes of transportation. Not all Filipinos even earn enough to afford the basic needs. What do all Filipinos have then?
All Filipinos have the right to basic needs, safety, and healthy environment,. These are examples of basic consumer rights as stated by the Consumer Act of the Philippines (RA 7394). The government’s actions to prevent the spread of coronavirus so far are well-intentioned, but not all Filipinos have been able to benefit from them. The lockdown of Metro Manila was supposed to prevent the spread of coronavirus by limiting human interaction and increasing distance between them, but long lines at various checkpoints have already shown that social distancing was merely a privilege not affordable for the poor. In my personal opinion, the government should have provided economic relief along with the lockdown, since the driving force behind long lines at checkpoints is the need to earn money. Shutting down public transportation was a good concept in theory to prevent the spread of coronavirus between commuters, but frontline workers and other Filipinos were forced to walk to their workplaces because the government didn’t factor in Filipinos who still needed to work. Thankfully, many people within the government have already proposed solutions, such as free transportation for healthcare workers and the approval for tricycles to be on the road.
I’m making a new paragraph just because I want to call out all the hoarders. Yes, I’m talking about sellers of face masks and alcohols who put massive markups. I’d like to remind them that the Philippines is facing an EPIDEMIC, which should not be a BUSINESS OPPORTUNITY for others. You are robbing other Filipinos of their chance to protect themselves from getting sick. I also want to give a shoutout to panic buyers because you make me more scared than the virus itself. I’m not scared of the virus; I know to stay home, practice good hygiene, and limit human interaction. I’m scared of panic buyers and their selfishness. Sure, they’re prepared for many weeks, but in the end, they’ve created a shortage of supply for others who need the essentials you hoarded.
It’s impressive that something so small can create big problems that cannot easily be remedied. Coronavirus has immediately shown the world how various governments responded to an epidemic. Sadly, in the Philippines, the actions of citizens and LGUs are given more praise than the actions of the national government. If there’s anything I’ve learned from my 17 years of existence on Earth however, it is the fact that we ourselves have to be the change we want to see in our society. It is not enough for us to merely complain on social media about the actions of others; we must take part as well and help others. It can be as simple as only buying what you need at stores, and as grand as donating packs of face masks and other essentials to hospitals. Everyone’s already busy complaining about each other, let’s be busy actually helping one another.