DOST Chief calls for review of COVID-19 impact thru scientific methods

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Screengrab of Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Secretary Fortunato T. de la Peña

By Alithea De Jesus

As the demand to address COVID19 pandemic is empirical in order to be ready and resilient to all the foreseen ramifications, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Secretary Fortunato T. de la Peña called for the review of the policies during the webinar presentation of the study on “Content Analysis of Government Policies and Issuances regarding the 2020 Pandemic.

The DOST Chief underscored,  In the policy-making, I believe that everything boils down to the basic principles that are inundated by the decision-makers, and the rest shall be threshed out, as mentioned, as utilizing the science and we’d just remind everybody that when we say science-based, it is not only the mathematical sciences or the physical sciences that we are talking about but science that includes the social science aspects.”

Sec. de la Peña also noted that policy can change because of the changing environment. Although decision-makers would sometimes stick to one policy that they have already announced, it is not bad to change a policy if it is really necessary.

Meanwhile, in the study conducted by Laufred I. Hernandez, Professor of the Department of Behavioral Sciences of the University of the Philippines Manila, the content analysis of government policies is a research project that entails a comprehensive desk review of government orders, policies, issuances and/or legal instrumentalities pertaining to the prevention and control of COVID-19 in the Philippines. Since January until July this year, 55 resolutions on policy directions were issued by the Interagency Task Force (IATF) on Emerging Infectious Diseases (EID), 78 policy guidelines were issued by the Department of Health and more than 100 local government ordinances issued.

Hernandez believes that the most important policy should emanate from the local government units because each local government has its own way by which to mitigate the COVID-19.

One of the objectives of the research is to review policy issuances relative to timeliness, adequacy, practical feasibility, and reach.

The research finds that “the Philippines’ approach in combating COVID-19 has been very reactive and more in population control rather than giving emphasis to go testing in order to locate and isolate the virus from spreading further.”

Hernandez, in his study, finds that RA 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act’s initial implementation steps show that people, contrary to what the word ‘bayanihan’ as ‘bayan’ implies, are still left out in the fight against the virus. Largely, the people are mere recipients of the aid package.

De la Peña lauded the National Research Council of the Philippines (NRCP) of the DOST for taking the lead in COVID-related social researches. He emphasized that social science is valuable, especially at a time like this when people’s feedback and people’s perception and situations are needed to be looked into.

And this is what the Council’s researches have been doing — letting the people know what and how the people are feeling. DOST-NRCP’s researches on COVID have been particularly relevant especially in the decision-making process.

The value of this researches was seen by a member of the IATF when they requested a presentation of another DOST-NRCP funded research on the “Feelings, Cognitions, Behaviors of Filipinos During the COVID-19 Pandemic,” which was conducted by Dr. Cecilla Gastardo-Conaco, Department of Psychology, UP Diliman. The study investigated the people’s feelings and responses to COVID-19 pandemic across the timeline of the pandemic and through the various government actions.

“With so many legislations being passed, we need NRCP’s analysis to see their relevance, timeliness and the necessity of those pieces or actions,” De la Peña said.

The webinar is the third in the series of the Kapakanan ng Tao sa Oras ng Pandemya-COVID (KTOP-COVID) conducted by DOST-NRCP. The Council has been putting a face and providing a voice on an otherwise purely numerical COVID-related data. The social studies researches being done and presented are providing valuable information in understanding the overall COVID situation in the country.

The KTOP-COVID runs from June 23, 2020, to August 2020 at 10:00 – 11:00 in the morning. The public can view the webinars in the Research Pod, a Facebook Page of DOST-NRCP.

The next two remaining research projects to be presented in the series are: Scoping on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Services (MHPSS) in the Philippines in the time of COVID 19 Pandemic by Dr. Elizabeth P. de Castro – Professor (retired) Department of Psychology, UP on 04 August 2020; and Defining a Gender-responsive Work-from-Home (WFH) Scheme in a Post-ECQ Scenario by Dr. Marieta Banez-Sumagaysay – Executive Director, DOST-NRCP on 18 August 2020.