BY VIC N. SUMALINOG
Davao City Mayor Inday Sara Duterte-Carpio seems to have hit the nail right on the head.
No, not the literal meaning of such frequently used analogies. Rather, we are referring to her recently launched massive campaign to promote four simple ways of stopping the spread of the Corona Virus Disease (CoViD) 19 in the city.
While we believe that the launching of the campaign should have been done during the early days of the pandemic, still it is likely to achieve the same objective since of late there appears a spike in the number of CoViD cases being monitored in the city.
Yes, we believe that a massive awareness campaign will goad the people of the city to follow what is being prescribed in the various health protocols adopted by the government to arrest the spread of the deadly virus.
On this aspect we cannot help but be reminded of a notorious figure in World War II era Germany.
We do not wish to dignify the propaganda man of the late German dictator Adolf Hitler who adopted the motto, “Lies often told can become gospel truth.” During the early days of the war in Europe the Hitler regime looked like it was succeeding in that strategy. But the real situation in the battle field eventually caught up with the lies effectively changing the mindset of the people in European countries invaded by Germany.
Today the world is facing another global battle against an unseen enemy – the CoViD 19 pandemic. The battlefield is everywhere and the foot soldiers are the people who are getting guidance from the strategies adopted by their governments.
In the Philippine theater of the battle against CoViD the national government has issued general guidelines on how to confront the enemy. The strategies though allow the local governments to innovate ways to carry on the fight based on the situation at their level.
And Davao City mayor Sara could not have done any misstep with her massive information, education and communication (IEC) campaign anchored on truth to change her constituents’ mindset.
Yes, if the Hitlerian propaganda line of “Lies often told evolve into gospel truth” initially succeeded, how much more if it is the “truth that is often told” the people? It could not go the other way but succeed in its objective.
Really we could not see any iota of lies in such health protocols as staying at home, wearing face masks or face shields, social distancing, and frequent hand washing and sanitizing being effective ways of making people safe from CoViD infection.
But such effectiveness could easily be relegated to naught if there are no commensurate efforts to make these strategies reach every citizen’s awareness and instilled in their consciousness. The government, more specifically the local units, cannot just be dependent on the mainstream and even the social media in order to reach out to every citizen.
We believe that doing the IEC on the earlier-mentioned health protocols espoused by the government must evolve beyond that level. It has to take the face of propaganda so that the resultant affirmative action will not only be a matter of compliance but the beginning of the development of people’s habit.
Yes, this new initiative of the Davao City government will definitely elevate the drive to another level. That is, that it is not only heard, seen on radio and television, or in social media, it should now be made visible in as many mediums as possible.
And this is rightly done by the city when under the ramped up drive to enjoin the people’s cooperation in the battle against CoViD 19 such medium as banners, posters, t-shirts, perhaps huge billboards in addition to the traditional means will translate to every citizen knowing and doing his/her responsibility to win the government’s battle against the deadly virus.
As to the use of t-shirts with messages on the fight against the virus, if it is not too much, we recommend that the wearing should not only be limited to employees of the city government. Their number is only a minuscule compared to the total number of the city’s population. Maybe it is worth spending a little more to acquire additional t-shirts to be given to barangay officials and front liners assigned thereat. Our officials should not forget that several city barangays have accounted for a huge number of infected persons in the entire city that totaled close to a thousand as of last Sunday. So a few people in the barangays wearing t-shirts carrying messages on the fight against CoViD could help out in the awareness campaign.
Now more than ever, the need to engage the people into doing their role in the fight by simply obeying protocols has become imperative. This battle cannot be won if the foot soldiers prefer to be fence sitters instead of contributing their share in the over-all efforts.
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