Never a dull moment in gov’t information

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    ‘The way the Palace runs its information dissemination is a mess, and the Roque-Año contradiction on this issue is just one of the many pieces of evidence of stupidity that confuse the people.’

    THERE’S never a dull moment in the area of government information — both content creation, messaging or massaging as the case may be, and public dissemination. And the presidential spokesman, by the nature of his job, is in the midst of this chaos.

    When Harry Roque was plucked from another mediocre period of his professional career and rehired as presidential spox, his predecessor Atty. Salvador Panelo said in the time of pandemic, perhaps Malacañang needed somebody who could dish out the presidential message in another light, presumably more effectively than before.

    Now it looks like Roque has headwinds not foreseen before when he took the job. The latest boo-boo in this task of government messaging is that Secretary Roque had just said there is no house-to-house search policy for victims of the coronavirus, which is fully opposed to the announcement by DILG Secretary Eduardo Año and PNP Gen. Guillermo Eleazar. Since the idea of house-to-house search is being hyped by government critics, it would look like Roque was lumping Año and General Eleazar among them.

    Specifically, here is what Roque said: “We don’t have a provision for house-to-house. Only the political critics of the government, again, weaponizing this very important task of tracing.”

    The contradicting statement came on the heels of Año’s announcement on Tuesday that the authorities (who else but the police?) will implement house-to-house visits for victims of COVID-19, whether with symptoms or without symptoms, to weed out any coronavirus patients and bring them to government or private hospitals or quarantine facilities. Like the general that he is, Año warned, “To our countrymen, if you know a neighbor who is COVID-19 positive and hiding, please report them to us.”

    Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, a member of the Inter-agency Task Force (IATF), admitted that he did not know about the new policy on house-to-house search and stressed that the matter had not been discussed. Guevarra, however, said that there is ample legal basis for transferring COVID-infected persons to government quarantine facilities if they are incapable of voluntarily isolating themselves.

    The justice secretary stressed that should it become official policy of the IATF, the house-to-house search for COVID-19-infected persons should be done by barangay health workers and not the police.

    The way the Palace runs its information dissemination is a mess, and the Roque-Año contradiction on this issue is just one of the many pieces of evidence of stupidity that confuse the people. No wonder the opposition senators are having a heyday pointing out the mistakes and inadequacies of the government information effort.