Senators warn: Address needs of workers affected by quarantine to avoid more problems
MANILA, Philippines – Senate President Vicente Sotto III and Senator Panfilo Lacson have urged the government to act on growing concerns of workers affected by the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), to avoid facing more security and economic problems.
Lacson said in a tweet on Thursday that the government should be more flexible with its policy towards public utility vehicle (PUV) drivers, as the suspension of work and public transportation has left them and other workers who rely on daily wages without anything to feed their families.
The entire Luzon was placed under ECQ by President Rodrigo Duterte last Monday to avoid the spread of COVID-19, as cases piled up recently.
“PUV drivers are hard hit by the public transport ban. Isang linggo lang na walang pasada, how will they feed their families?” Lacson asked. “Parents may go hungry for the sake of the children. But when their children go hungry, God knows what they will do next. A little flexibility might help.”
Lacson did not directly mention what “would happen next”, but rumors are circulating that poor people within Metro Manila, who have been left without income due to the enhanced quarantine, have been more aggressive in seeking assistance and alms.
Several social media users have posted alleged stories of people attempting to loot several department stores, and people from the marginalized sectors scrambling for any assistance.
Sotto has supposedly relayed these claims to Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez, in an attempt to convince the country’s economic managers to act on the issue. However, Sotto said in a text message to INQUIRER.net that government officials have dismissed these posts as “fake news.”
“I have been telling the Palace thru Sec. Dominguez since early this morning of these concerns. Still no action until now,” Sotto said. “They are now insisting (that) what we are hearing are fake news daw. I hope and pray that they are right and that I am wrong!”
In a separate text, Philippine National Police (PNP) Deputy Chief for Operations Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar said that they have yet to receive such reports.
Previously, Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto — Senate President Sotto’s nephew — asked the national government to allow tricycle drivers to operate as shuttle services for health workers.
This was after President Duterte’s declaration paralyzed public transportation, forcing frontline service workers to walk for kilometers just to reach hospitals.
However, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya just urged the Pasig mayor to be more creative in solving problems created by the enhanced community quarantine.
Earlier, the Department of Social Welfare and Development said that they are moving towards handing food and non-food packages to families affected by the quarantine.
DSWD said its central office still has a P1.3 billion Quick Response Fund, which can be replenished by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to ensure that communities will continuously be given food and other essential items.
As of Thursday, the Department of Health said that there are 202 confirmed cases in the Philippines, 17 of which have died. At least seven have recovered, while there are six patients who were allowed to go on a home quarantine mode.
The COVID-19 is a respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus that first emerged in China’s city of Wuhan in Hubei province in late 2019.
The International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses named the novel coronavirus as SARS-CoV-2.
Coronavirus is a family of viruses, whose surfaces have a crown-like appearance. The viruses are named for the spikes on their surfaces. Worldwide, over 193,000 COVID-19 cases have been recorded, 7,865 of which have died. On the other hand, another 81,743 patients have recovered.
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