Fighting the COVID-19 is no excuse for the government to ignore transparency

Wednesday, May 20, 2020
Metroscene Mag

In times like these, transparency matters more than ever. At the start of the COVID-19 dilemma, President Rodrigo Duterte assured that the government "will never hide anything" from the public — yet a crisis of transparency is brewing. 

The COVID-19 pandemic demands swift action but fighting the COVID-19 is no excuse for the government to ignore transparency. With that, Filipinos are now urging the government to be transparent in providing information on the outbreak. 

Transparency builds trust

As the country answers to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is vital to make the decision and policy-making public. Without transparency, fake news and conspiracy are set to spark along with the virus, infecting communities with nothing but misinformation. 

Vice President Leni Robredo once stressed the importance of transparency to dismiss speculations such as alleged "underreporting" of the number of COVID-19 cases.

"Iyong transparency, nakakataas ng tiwala ng tao sa pamahalaan, so sana...sana maging very transparent. Sana walang pagduda iyong taumbayan na mayroong mga information na hindi 'sinisiwalat," she said in her radio show on Sunday, March 8.

Even though #LuzonLockdown is being implemented in the country, public servants should still be agile and communicative to ensure open access to urgent discussions. Right decisions require useful information, and it is neither right nor fit for democracy to hide or exclude the public from health-related decisions or deliberations.

Transparency is a responsibility

The right to information is a matter of life and death during the COVID-19 crisis. The actual number of cases and fatality should be disclosed in public in order to determine the real state of the country. It is a responsibility our leaders should remember. Yet with the continuous spread of the virus, it seems like the country is being shrouded by secrecy. 

The Department of Health (DOH) recently faced the allegations of hiding the actual number of COVID-19 mortality in the country. It happened after renowned GMA newscaster Arnold Clavio posted on Instagram pertaining to a hospital in Metro Manila that was allegedly instructed to stop counting deaths of patients due to COVID-19. DOH has then denied the statement. 

"Maging tapat para 'di kumalat. Naghihintay kami, [Health] Secretary [Francisco] Duque. Ano ang totoong Sitwasyon sa Pilipinas?" Clavio said in his post.

While the spike in COVID-19 cases nationwide show no signs of stopping any time soon, there is no need for the people to be kept in the dark. The government needs to get rid of secrecies for it is their responsibility.

The rallying cry of these difficult times is truth and credibility. We agree, and that includes keeping everyone in the loop when it comes to decisions that could cause long-lasting damage to our country after the crisis has passed.

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