Despite implementing one of the world’s strictest and longest lockdowns, the Philippines has struggled to contain COVID-19. Accountability for rising infections is often framed as the tragedy of Filipinos being pasaway, a term commonly attributed to poor and marginalized groups who have been stereotyped as violators of government policies. There is a need to unpack this narrative by understanding the level of compliance to public health standards of vulnerable groups, what factors affect their compliance, and how trust, policy clarity, and perceived effectiveness of government’s responses, among others, interplay in shaping the country’s conundrum. Data for the study will be collected through a cross-sectional survey among marginalized groups (youth and elderly) in a relatively poor municipality. Using Structural Equation Modeling and other analytical techniques, the study hopes to contribute to current academic discourses and inform policy approaches on how communities in the Global South can effectively cope with the pandemic.