Pimentel on PH gov’t travel ban: Better late than never
MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III said the President’s imposition of a temporary travel ban on travelers to and from China amid the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak was a move that was “better late than never.”
“It really takes time, but better late than never because there was a review of past actions when there was a SARS [severe acute respiratory syndrome] outbreak a few years ago,” Pimentel, speaking partly in Filipino, told reporters in an interview on Friday after a Filipino-Chinese group donated 30,000 face masks to his office for distribution.
This following criticisms that the government was late in imposing the ban as the Philippines already has two confirmed cases of the virus.
The Department of Health (DOH) announced on Sunday that the Philippines had a second confirmed case of the 2019-nCoV.
The second case, the first death recorded outside of China, was the 44-year-old male companion of a Chinese woman who was the first to test positive for the virus in the Philippines.
Both were residents of Wuhan City, where the outbreak started.
“If we review the SARS [scare] and the past actions that several countries took back then, including the travel ban, SARS suddenly vanished. So that seems to have helped [in the timing of the current travel ban],” Pimentel said.
“That’s not the solution, but an accumulation of many actions will lead to the defeat of the virus,” he added.
President Rodrigo Duterte imposed the ban in a bid to curb the spread of the virus, which has so far killed over 300 in China.
The ban covers foreigners coming from China, Hong Kong, and Macau.
Also covered are foreigners who traveled to China, Hong Kong or Macau in the last 14 days.
Exempted from the ban are Filipinos and Philippine permanent resident visa holders who would be subjected to a 14-day quarantine on their arrival to the Philippines.
Travel to China, Hong Kong, and Macau is also temporarily banned.
“It’s important to note that this is just temporary. And this is not directed at the nationality of passengers. This is directed at the origin of the plane. So that’s the important thing. China itself is under lockdown — particularly Hubei province whose capital is Wuhan,” he said.
“So that means the concept of lockdown o travel ban is acceptable to China itself as they are doing it right in its own territory,” he added.
Fil-Chi group donates masks
Aside from turning over 30,000 masks to Pimentel’s office, the Philippine Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc. (PCCCII) said it would distribute the rest of the 600,000 surgical masks to several government agencies and police offices.
PCCCII Secretary-General Koh Beng Sum said the group would give the Office of the President 200,000 masks.
It would be up to the President to decide where to distribute the masks, the PCCCII said.
The PCCCII said it would also give 50,000 masks each to the governments of Parañaque and Manila and to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).
Meanwhile, 30,000 face masks have already been donated to the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO).
“Because we have a 28,000-strong policeman in the metropolitan area and we would also be giving to the PNP [Philippine National Police] tomorrow also,” Koh added.
“At the same time, we’ll be distributing to the poor people of Manila on Wednesday around 50,000 pieces, we hope we can distribute more but the present problem now is it’s hard to get, we tried our best to purchase but this is the max we can do,” he added.
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.