Prudence and responsibility

TO THE QUICK - Jerry S. Tundag (The Freeman) - March 13, 2020 - 12:00am

The Philippines likes to pride itself as a country where there is a cellphone in almost every hand. It is a country where almost everyone is on social media. Being the powerful tool of communication that it is, social media would have been the right platform to calm a population on the verge of panic over the coronavirus that has swept over half the countries of the world.

But that is not the case. Almost everybody with anything to say about the health crisis is saying it without the least regard whether what they are saying is true or not. At a time like this, only those with the expertise and the authority to speak about the crisis should take to social media and talk about the crisis.

A page should be set up for the purpose so that people who need to know anything about the crisis have somewhere to go for information that is official, authoritative, and clear. Any other sources should be declared unofficial, unauthoritative, and possibly fake. At a time of great social emergency, unofficial and unauthoritative sources might need to be declared illegal, alarmist, and possibly shut down.

Without this action being put in place at the soonest time, everyone will continue to have a free rein on just what sort of things to put online. And we cannot afford that. The best way to make things worse than it is is to let folly take over sanity. We cannot lose our heads over this. If we are truly the social media powerhouse that we think we are, then let us assert that fact by being prudent, responsible, and get our facts straight.

For example, as this was written early evening of Wednesday, March 11, the Philippines continued to have only 33 confirmed cases of the coronavirus. Because of the ensuing fear, not just ordinary people but even supposedly learned ones began babbling about lockdowns and cancellations as if they knew exactly what they were saying or prepared to deal with the consequences.

Local governments started toying with the idea of locking down their towns and cities and cancelling scheduled activities. Entire government departments began thinking of stopping all work. Even the Catholic Church is suggesting doing away with Masses or certain rites and practices associated thereof. If there is something worse than the disease the coronavirus has foisted on Filipinos, it is lunacy.

Look, I am not looking at this health crisis with frivolity. It is something very serious, which is why it needs to be dealt with seriousness, not with lack of prudence and irresponsibility. The Philippines is a country of 110 million. Out of that 110 million, only 33 cases have been recorded as of this writing. I am not belittling the 33 cases. But shuttering everything and going to the bunkers?

The worst hit country is China with more than 80,000 cases and 4,000 deaths. That is admittedly a pretty scary number. But the facts must come out. And it is that, with 1.3 billion people, 80,000 is still a drop in the bucket. I am not being insensitive. I am just trying to put things in perspective lest we all do something we will only regret later, like procuring a cure that is worse than the disease.


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