Conditioned by both fact and fiction, we have definite fears about the concept of a government-imposed “curfew.” The public is locked in their homes and, in the dark of night, jackbooted and masked govern-ment agents break down doors to take people away to undisclosed locations.
That scenario has occurred countless times affecting millions of people around the world in past decades if not centuries. However, despite our rational alarm over a curfew, it is a valid government action in its function of providing “crowd control.”
The government does crowd control with every traffic signal and waiting area at the LTO. We accept this even with reluctance as a way to have a proper and functioning society. Governments can obviously abuse their authorities given by the people. And, eventually, the people will rise up against any abuses.
The announcement that the Metro Manila area was going to be put under some variation of “community quarantine” or lockdown has been met with concerns as expected. Part of the problem is that the specifics are even now not completely “specified.” The government has the responsibility to make policies that are justifiable, clear and understandable, and properly disseminated to the public.
Due to the exigency and the complexity of the problem, the government did not completely fulfill its responsibility on what we will call “The Lockdown.” Mistakes were made.
The immediate opposition to the lockdown went from sensible to silly. There is still some confusion about what business will be closed and which will not, and what kinds of travel are allowed. But as the President and other officials have pointed out repeatedly, this policy requires even a daily review.
Limiting gatherings of large groups is—according to some people—a prelude to martial law and a convenient way to silence the opposition. Is the Philippines the only nation on Earth with such a draconian policy? The government of Israel announced a new restriction on gatherings of over 10 people in the same place.
In fact, according to The Jerusalem Post newspaper, “Israel is going to use counterterrorism technologies to track coronavirus carriers, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Saturday as the government enacted new restrictions, including the closure of all restaurants, cafés and theaters. ‘We are at war with an enemy: the coronavirus,’ the prime minister said.”
The Spanish government is putting the country under lockdown. Spaniards will be ordered to stay at home except to buy food or medicines, go to the hospital, and go to work or other emergencies. El Mundo reports Spain’s interior ministry will control all police forces, including local and regional ones, as part of the state of emergency.
In Italy, the hardest hit in Europe, Italians must have permission to move around the country and only for reasons of work, health or extenuating circumstances. All sports events and outdoor gatherings are now forbidden. A 6 p.m. curfew on bars has extended to the whole country.
We may not like or even agree with all the government’s actions. However, in this situation we are reminded of the thoughts of American founding father Benjamin Franklin before the signing of the Declaration of Independence. “We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.”
We must do our part to cooperate to ensure the health of the nation and of all Filipinos.