Editorial: Improving internal communications

Editorial: Improving internal communications

THERE is clearly a disconnect when it comes to the guidelines being issued on the management of the spread of the Covid-19 and those tasked to implement it.

The guidelines issued by the national or local government unit (LGU) tells us what needs to be done or complied with during a community quarantine but those tasked to implement it are saying something different.

This disconnect has caused confusion and frustration among residents in Davao City. On social media, we have ready several viral posts of local residents doing activities within the bounds of the existing guidelines but are still allegedly reprimanded by law enforcement authorities.

Those who tried to reason politely and present a copy of the executive order or Omnibus Guidelines of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases Resolutions (IATF) are still being reprimanded, some even describing it as rude or harsh.

During her Special Hour on Monday, November 23, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio admitted the disconnect between the city's imposed policies and its implementation on the ground.

"It seems that there is an error in the implementation of the guidelines on the ground. We will just remind our Davao City Police Office nga basahon ang (to read the) Omnibus Guide," Duterte-Carpio said in an interview via 87.5 FM Davao City Disaster Radio.

This issue or problem has been around since the community quarantine happened. It is unclear how the internal communications work among government agencies but it is clear that when it comes to cascading the information to those who will implement it, a lot more has to be done.

The different government agencies concerned with the implementation of local policies have to make it a point that everyone understands the guidelines that will be implemented. People are already confused with the successive issuances of executive orders and reminders of different guidelines, we cannot have law enforcement personnel who are also confused about the guidelines.

One thing that could be done is to inform and educate those who will be tasked to implement the guidelines. However, this also comes with its own set of complications. We have seen instances that these guidelines, which are not meant for public consumption, are being leaked by irresponsible government employees. Hence, making it also difficult for the LGU to make advance notices internally.

Maybe, what the LGU and government agencies can do is hold seminars in separate batches to inform law enforcement and frontline personnel. It could also designate team leaders that will be trained and informed on the local guidelines. With a team member or team leader who is well aware of the guidelines, they could help make other law enforcement officers understand the existing guidelines.

Likewise, it is also a good idea for law enforcement officers, local residents, and visiting non-residents to have a copy of the latest guidelines on hand. Should there be disagreements at the checkpoint, there is a clear document that would show what should be followed or not.

It would also be considerate for the LGU to come out with guidelines in the local language. English is not the first language of many and not everyone has a good command of the English language. A simplified set of guidelines in Filipino or Bisaya would also help.

Communication is important in times of crisis. The government wants people to follow their guidelines. But if government workers and law enforcement agencies are as confused as some residents and visiting non-residents, how can they expect them to follow properly?


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