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Hard reboot begins

COVID-19 and the ECQ, when accompanied by a lack of information, results in so much uncertainty that then leads to a feeling of insecurity.

Francis Wakefield



Ready to rock Public transport drivers suit up their vehicles in accordance with strict health protocols in preparation for today when more relaxed quarantine rules start in Metro Manila. / PHOTOGRAPHS BY RIO LEONELLE I. DELUVIO FOR THE DAILY [email protected]_rio

Technicians turn to a method to restart called hard reboot when a computer system freezes or when standard procedures fail, which will be a process that the nation is embarking on from today.

That method for Metro Manila will be combination of advanced technology and a return to the roots for many of its residents.

Malacañang said the Duterte administration is employing a whole-of-government approach for the relaxing of quarantine rules in Metro Manila and most parts of the country.

Interventions and measures for minimum public health standards will be implemented on the capital region as it shifts to a general community quarantine (GCQ) regime.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the national government have issued guidelines that apply to workplaces, employers, and workers to ensure the people’s safety amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

On Thursday night, President Rodrigo Duterte has approved the Inter-Agency Task Force’s recommendation to put Metro Manila and Davao City, Pangasinan, Albay, Regions I, III and IV-1 under GCQ starting today.

Battle far from over
“The coronavirus disease 2019, as we have said, in numerous occasions, is an invisible enemy and the world, including the Philippines, has witnessed its adverse impacts across all sectors, as there is still no miracle cure or vaccine for this dreadful virus,” Roque said.

The government’s “We Recover as One” manual for the post-modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) period, which was released over the weekend, said accurate information propagation would be key during the transition period.

“Accurate information is crucial to ensure that the public understands and retains the information made available to them,” according to the paper prepared by the National Economic and Development Authority.

“COVID-19 and the ECQ, when accompanied by a lack of information, results in so much uncertainty that then leads to a feeling of insecurity,” the document stated. “This feeling of insecurity, if left unresolved, then translates to a loss in consumer confidence and bearish investor sentiments,” it added.

“The government cannot fight COVID-19 alone. We need the concerted effort of everyone. The sacrifices of our people in the past seventy or so days are laudable and we must not put these to naught,” he added.

Roque said it maybe difficult for some, especially those who will physically report, but we live in extraordinary times and situation.

“As more sectors and industries begin to operate, let us continue cooperating with authorities in enforcing quarantine protocols. Let us take care of each other by wearing face masks/face shields, maintaining physical/social distancing, staying at home if/when need be and avoiding crowded places, and the like. Only then we can heal and rise as one,” he added.

Home to till land
The new order will also have the dispersal of the population, through the Balik Probinsya Bagong Pagasa (BP2) program, as a pillar.

The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) said it will provide land to participants of the program to encourage them to venture into agriculture when they return to their hometowns.

DAR Secretary John Castriciones said the DAR has huge areas of farmland for distribution to landless Filipinos.

The processing, he said, has been stalled since agency personnel, particularly surveyors, cannot work on the field due to quarantine rules imposed to control the outbreak.

“Once we relax quarantine protocols, our personnel can go to the different place to continue the surveying of lands,” he indicated.

Castriciones revealed that 420,000 hectares of privately acquired lands and about 150,000 hectares of government-owned lands were up for disposition.

Privately-acquired lands will be paid by recipients to the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP), while government-owned lands will be granted free.

“If a land is government-owned, it is free. We are attaching this to the government’s BP2 wherein the urban dwellers, our countrymen who are in the cities and want to go back to the provinces,” he indicated.

“One of the assistance of government is to give beneficiaries of the program a piece of land, ” he said.
The program, he added, is also open for returning overseas Filipino workers.

World of AI ushered in
The Department of Transportation (DoTr) said public transport will rely heavily, from hereon, on artificial intelligence to lessen human contact.

Digital technology will be used “to help abate COVID-19 transmission or outbreak through the rail lines, by availing of artificial intelligence (AI) infrastructure that can be programmed to do the following:

* Massive scanning and temperature profiling to enable scanning of several persons in parallel and repetitively to avoid false positive readings;

* Automated contact tracing for passenger information to be automatically recorded and paired during the passenger’s ingress and egress for future contact tracing purposes;

* Human-to-human contact detection will be available to detect physical distancing violations cases while in the train and station premises;

* Automated face mask detection of passengers to identify those without the safety gear; and
* Frequent contact surface analysis will help detect common contact surfaces for target disinfection and sanitation.

AI infra centric COVID-19 mitigation was already initiated by the Philippine National Railways that allows it to better allocate human resources from detection to enforcement of health and safety protocols.

Public reminded of safety measures
At least two senators have reminded the public to observe safety protocols as Metro Manila enters GCQ on Monday sans the widely-pushed mass testing.

They have reiterated social distancing and mandatory wearing of masks outside.

A senator said that the public should also play their part in keeping themselves safe from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

“Tomorrow is the beginning of the GCQ in Metro Manila. Let’s be realistic, the intended testing capacities will not happen as scheduled,” the legislator said.

“It’s up to us to protect ourselves & our families: avoid gatherings, wear masks, social distance & go home immediately. Nasa atin na ang responsibilidad,” the lawmaker pointed out.

Senator Risa Hontiveros, on the other hand, urged the local government units to increase their efforts in ensuring that safety nets are in place to protect those who need to go outside or to their workplaces.

“Even with the GCQ, we need to ensure that safety nets are in place, including more tests and personal protective equipment for workers and frontliners, work-from-home arrangement for those who are able, safe and sufficient transportation options for the public and better support for coordination with local government units,” she said.

Currently, there are 17,224 confirmed cases in the country. Of the said number, 3,808 have already recovered while 950 perished.

with Hananeel Bordey