We all have a part to play

INTROSPECTIVE - Tony F. Katigbak - The Philippine Star

Since the beginning of January, we’ve all been struggling with the new surge of COVID-19. Whether it’s us or someone in our immediate circle that’s been infected, Omicron has swept through the country. At this point, it may be too early to tell the true impact this will have on the country, an economy working towards recovery, and a population struggling with the health crisis going on two years now.

One thing that it has taught us, though, is that even as we try to move forward, we need to find sustainable ways to live with the virus. If we want our businesses to succeed and our lives to move forward somehow, we need to be proactive and not reactive, which we have been doing for the past two years.

At this point, we can no longer say we are ill-equipped. While we have yet to find a cure, we know what we can do to protect ourselves and those around us. We have access to vaccines, and we know how to do things remotely that may not necessarily require us to go out in person.

I don’t think we still need to wait to be told what to do. Many people back in December already knew that going out and having bigger events could lead to another surge. But people went ahead with them. At this point, we need to rely on one another and community efforts to make a difference. This can’t just happen with a few people, it needs to be the majority, if not all of us.

Despite Omicron being milder than the other variants, that doesn’t mean that it’s the end. The virus is still present and can still mutate, and just because we have a milder variant this time around, that won’t always be the case. We need to be prepared for any potential outcome. Until we find a cure, we need to create new and practical sustainable guidelines on how to successfully live with the virus.

One of the most important things right now is clarity. I don’t think I’m alone when I say that it’s somewhat confusing with everything changing daily. From the policies indicating what is and isn’t allowed unless vaccinated, to the duration of quarantine, to the type of alert level we’re in and what it means, most Filipinos are constantly asking what is and isn’t allowed.

This confusion will only cause non-compliance. We must iron out legitimate and practical guidelines to help us move forward. We need to be responsible for ourselves and our communities. We can’t rely on the government or private entities alone. We need to be proactive in our spheres. The goal is to survive and carve out a new path forward.

I know we are grateful for the bit of a break we had during the holidays, but we can’t just live for the next “window” when cases go down. We need to be able to read the signs and adjust accordingly. After all, even the World Health Organization is sure that, based on the movement of the virus and the variants, it’s only a matter of time before a new one develops. So we have to remain vigilant and plan ahead.

Let’s work together to keep our communities safe. We can focus on helping our businesses grow again and reviving the economy if we do. We all need to do commit to playing our part. That’s when we’ll see real improvement.

*     *     *

And speaking of doing our part, what we need right now is transparency and flexibility more than anything else. Alongside vigilance, that’s how we can move forward and ensure that no one gets left behind.

It’s been alarming to see the rise in forged vaccine certificates and documentation. Why bother going down this route? The only ones getting hurt are the people who forge their certifications, and they are endangering those around them.

At the same time, we also have to find out why there is such a sudden uptick in forged vaccination documents. Is it because the vaccine is not readily available to these citizens or is it because these citizens don’t want to be vaccinated? These are two very different scenarios and need to be addressed separately.

For those that haven’t had access to the vaccine yet, robust vaccination drives are now happening all over the Metro. While the lines may be pretty tedious, they are still manageable. Private companies are also rolling out vaccination programs and even booster vaccination initiatives. Hopefully, with the government, LGUs, and the private sector working harder together, everyone can access their initial vaccine and booster shot.

On the flip side – for those that still don’t want to get vaccinated because of fear – ostracizing them won’t achieve anything. Educating them on the importance and benefits of vaccination is probably still the safest bet. This way, they are better informed to hopefully choose to protect themselves and those around them.

It’s been said before, but at this point, it is truer than ever – we are responsible for ourselves and our families. We need to take steps to protect them and keep them safe. Community buy-in is how we will move forward despite the obstacles along the way. We all have a part to play in rebuilding and paving the path forward, and it’s time we played it.


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