SK councils, local government use ‘online gimmicks’ to keep people indoors

Kurt Dela Peña
The challenges encourage participants to take videos and photos of themselves inside their houses

 ONLINE GIMMICKS. Youth leaders and local government units organize a number of online initiatives aimed at keeping young Filipinos at home

MANILA, Philippines – Several youth councils and a local government have created ways to encourage the public to stay at home as parts of the country have been placed under lockdown or “enhanced” community quarantine” in a bid to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

President Rodrigo Duterte, in a recorded message aired last Monday, March 16, placed the entire Luzon island on lockdown until April 12. The measure took effect 12 midnight of Tuesday, March 17, implementing strict quarantine for all households, among other measures.

After the declaration, local officials were quick to respond with creative efforts, compelling the public, especially those who still try to roam outside, to remain at home. (READ: Is the Metro Manila coronavirus lockdown bound to fail?

Marami pa ring kabataan namin ang lumalabas-labas ng bahay kahit delikado. So sabi namin, we have to think of innovative ways to stabilize our youth…Our main objective is to enforce Stay at Home policy. Kahit nasa loob ng bahay sila, they can be productive,” said Joal Cocjin, Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) Chairperson of Barangay Caragñag in San Andres, Catanduanes.

(There are a lot of youths who are still going outside their houses despite the dangers. We told ourselves that we have to think of innovative ways to stabilize our youth. Our main objective is to enforce Stay at Home policy. Even if they are inside their homes, they can be productive.)

In a data released by the Department of Health on Friday, March 20, Catanduanes province has 4,325 persons under monitoring.

The youth council launched on Wednesday, March 18, the “TikTok Challenge Kontra COVID-19,” enabling the public to remain interactive amid the lockdown.

In Quezon town in Quezon province, the SK Federation also used social media to convince individuals to stay at home, especially those who had arrived from Metro Manila.

Jolas Clemente, a member of the federation, said they were asked by their Rural Health Unit to help in implementing the strict quarantine for all households.

The social media challenge asked participants to take videos and photos of themselves inside their houses, thus helping the local government in making sure that the members of the community are not loitering outside.

Quezon province has one confirmed case of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. As of Thursday, March 19, the province also has more than 40 Persons Under Investigation.

Time to bond with family

In Naval, Biliran, Mayor Gerard Espina offered P10,000 pesos for an online gimmick “that will compel them to stay at home and wait for updates.”

“We just don’t want the whole home quarantine experience to be depressing…We want to prove that you can still enjoy and be interactive while staying at home,” he said.

In a Facebook post, Espina informed his constituents that he will give instructions for 7 days, mostly taking videos and photos while doing home activities.

Biliran Governor Rogelio Espina imposed a 15-day limited border closure for people in the province from March 17 to March 31. In Naval, curfew hours have been enforced from 9 pm until 5 am.

According to the town mayor, the challenge does not only ease the government’s task in monitoring people, but also “gives more bonding time with the family.”

Lapses of national government

Despite the fulfillment he feels seeing the community participate, Cocjin also aired his sentiments over the national government’s lapses in responding to the pandemic.

I think our national government is acting too slow and too late to respond to this pandemic. Binuksan natin ang ating payong ngayong basang-basa na tayo…(I think our national government is acting too slow and too late to respond to this pandemic. We opened our umbrellas only when we were already drenched in rain),” he said.

The same sentimenets were aired by Alden Fajilan, the SK Chairperson of Barangay San Roque in Corcuera, Romblon who initiated an online gimmick to call for submissions of literary works and videos about COVID-19.

Masaya na may halong disappointment…Ang mahirap lang talaga ay kakulangan ng mga kagamitan like thermal scanners (I am happy and disappointed at the same time. It’s hard because there is really a lack of medical equipment such as thermal scanners.),” said Fajilan.

Human rights group Karapatan earlier hit the government for placing almost all of its resources on military actions, instead of medical solutions: “The COVID-19 is a public health issue. Checkpoints should be primarily medical in nature. Why does it seem that personnel manning the checkpoints are fully armed with M-16 rifles instead of functioning thermal guns, personal protective equipment, and disinfection facilities?”

Cocjin said their initiative is their little way to fill the lapses in the national government. Meanwhile, he urged the youth to never lose hope.

Ngayon ang oras upang kumilos….Malayo pa ang ating tatahakin upang mapagwagian ang problemang ito…Walang susuko (This is a time for action. We have a lot more struggles to face before winning this battle. Do not lose hope.),” he said. –