Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo on March 10, 2021, advised his fellow Filipinos to keep themselves “busy and productive” to avoid emotional and mental health problems amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.

Panelo gave the advice after results of the Tugon ng Masa survey conducted by OCTA Research found that 28 percent of Filipinos are suffering from such emotional problems as stress or extreme sadness due to the pandemic.

“Do something to make yourself busy and productive,” he said in his commentary show “Counterpoint”.

Yun ho ang gagawin natin para ‘yun hong pandemya will not create emotional problems to us, as well as yung tinatawag na stress (That’s what we should do so the pandemic would not create emotional problems, such as stress, for us).”

The highest number of Filipinos who experienced emotional problems was reported in Metro Manila (40 percent) and those belonging to socio-economic Class E (35 percent).

OCTA Research also noted that mental health problems, such as depression, took a toll on 9 percent of adult Filipinos.

Most respondents experiencing mental health issues are from Mindanao (11 percent), the survey said.

Amid the imposition of quarantine restrictions, Panelo told the public to avoid daydreaming and instead look for new hobbies.

Filipinos, he said, should keep themselves occupied by finding time to watch movies, read, ride a bicycle, jog, sing, and start planting.

Panelo said Filipinos should also be “creative” and “happy” amid the pandemic.

“Kung nakatingin lang tayo sa kalawakan, naghihintay tayong gumabi at matutulog lang, talagang mai-stress. Magkakaroon talaga tayo ng problema kasi wala tayong ginagawa (If you are just staring into space, waiting for the night to sleep, you will really get stressed. You will have a problem because you are doing nothing),” he said.

Quarantine restrictions in the country have further been eased, giving more freedom of movement in public spaces amid the pandemic.

Metro Manila, Apayao, Baguio City, Kalinga, Mountain Province, Batangas, Tacloban City, Iligan City, Davao City, and Lanao del Sur are under the stricter general community quarantine (GCQ) until March 31.

The rest of the country stays under the more relaxed modified GCQ. (Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos, PNA)