A Foucauldian discourse analysis of president Duterte’s constructions of community quarantine during COVID-19 pandemic in the Philippines

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The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) first hit the Philippines in January 2020 and by March, more suspected cases were reported, compelling the national government to create measures to secure public health and fight the pandemic. In order to mitigate the spread of the virus, a community quarantine in the Philippine’s National Capital Region began on March 15, 2020. This study utilized Foucauldian Discourse Analysis in understanding President Rodrigo Roa–Duterte’s discourses about community quarantine during the COVID-19 pandemic in the Philippines. Two of his press conferences served as texts for discourse analysis: (1) on March 12, 2020 when he announced measures against COVID-19 threat, and (2) on March 16, 2020 when enhanced community quarantine was imposed. Results showed four wider discourses: (1) Community Quarantine as a Political Device, (2) Community Quarantine as a Protection of Public Health, (3) Community Quarantine as an Act against Resistance, and (4) Community Quarantine as an Opportunity for Bayanihan (spirit of Communal Unity) and an Expression of Damayan (Giving Compassion and Support). Results showed how the discourses transitioned from community quarantine to enhanced community quarantine. The results are discussed in relation to power and social change.