By KERRY TINGA
Many Filipinos in Metro Manila have turned to panic buying and hoarding amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak as the number of confirmed cases in the country rises. Along with photos of shopping carts filled with toilet and tissue paper, there are images of empty shelves and signs limiting purchase circulating around social media, showing panic buying around the capital region.
On Mar. 10, Bianca Manalo posted on Instagram urging people not to hoard. “Pity our fellow Filipinos who live on their daily wages, who can only afford to buy what they need when they receive their daily or weekly salaries. When they go to buy their needs, the shelves will be empty,” wrote Manalo. On Thursday, she announced that she was going to undergo self-quarantine following Sen. Win Gatchalian, who was exposed at a hearing to someone who tested positive with COVID-19. Beyond COVID-19 itself, there is much to fear for the state of our nation.
Beyond COVID-19 itself, there is much to fear for the state of our nation. Panic buying highlights the wealth inequality in our country, widening the gap between the haves and have nots in the truest sense of the word. The ability to panic buy is a luxury for the privileged. While it is human nature to want to prepare as much as possible, there is a point when it goes overboard, and when it affects other people’s health and safety.
Why do people panic buy?
Many are preparing themselves for the possibility of having to stay indoors for a long time, purchasing as much as they can to sustain everybody in the household. It is born out of rational thought, but the lengths people go to can be completely the opposite. If someone believes that there is a possibility they need to self-quarantine, two weeks’ worth of supplies is all they need to have in the household. And while it makes sense to plan ahead, depriving other people of goods does not help in containing the virus.
Panic buying also occurs when people feel that what they need to purchase will not be available. Therefore, panic buying also begets more panic buying. Not only do people deprive others of their panic purchases, they inadvertently cause other people to panic buy, creating a chain reaction that entrenches the panic buying mentality.
What you can do instead?
If you panic and bought too much, or realize that you have enough to give during this time, try to spread kindness and care by safely donating food and goods to those in need.
There is no need to gather and donate in person. For all parties’ sake, it is best to limit exposure. Contact the group or the person you are planning to donate to and give them all the details of the donation, including the exact time they can expect it. Have as few people as possible drop off the donations at the designated area. When at the place, inform them that you have the donations, and try to pass them as carefully as possible to the recipient. I would encourage donating to homes that help the elderly, or other non-profits that deal with people who have a high risk of getting a serious illness from COVID-19.
Be safe, but be reasonable. But let this crisis be a time when the Filipino people show their care and creativity, finding ways to help those in need while social distancing and following health protocols.