Drilon, Gatchalian back ECQ extension
MANILA, Philippines – At least two senators on Friday backed a two-week extension of the enhanced community quarantine imposed in the entire Luzon.
“We have sacrificed so much to prevent a further spread of the COVID-19 and a total collapse of our health system. It will be a total waste if we lift prematurely the enhanced community quarantine,” Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said in a statement on Friday.
To get a clearer and more accurate assessment of the situation, Drilon saw the need for a two-week extension.
“We are only beginning to see the data. I see some data that shows it is effective, but it is too early to tell. An extra two weeks would help,” the senator said.
He said that during the two-week extension, the government must be able to act fast and decisively to ensure enough food supply, assistance to workers displaced by the crisis and address the depleting health workforce.
“When more than 100 million lives are at stake, any amount of delay in government response is a mortal sin and unforgivable,” he stressed.
“Kawawa naman po ang 18 milyong pinakamahihirap na Filipino (The 18-million poorest Filipinos would go through a miserable life). They are the most affected by this lockdown,” he added.
Drilon is a member of the joint congressional oversight committee that reviews and evaluates the implementation of the Bayanihan to Heal As One Act which granted President Rodrigo Duterte additional powers to deal with the COVID-19 crisis in the country.
He said that come May, the government may consider easing the enhanced community quarantine.
“From May 1 to May 31, we must continue to restrict travel to and from Luzon and ban mass gathering,” he proposed.
This would mean that going to malls, churches and mass gatherings, in general, would still not be allowed but critical manufacturing should gradually open (food and non-food and supply chain), as well as critical construction (power plants, infrastructure).
“What is essential is we open more jobs and livelihood, as well as access to food and supplies. This way, more people have income,” he explained.
To facilitate, Drilon proposed opening some modes of public transportation, but not jeepneys, but only those where social distancing can still be practiced like trains or buses.
Senator Sherwin Gatchalian favored extending the quarantine period.
“With the announcement of the Chief Implementer, Gen. (Carlito) Galvez, that mass testing can only be conducted on April 14, which is still 11 days from now, we are left with no other choice but to extend the ECQ by at least two weeks,” he said in a message to reporters.
“Mass testing of PUMs (persons under monitoring) and PUIs (persons under investigation) is the only way to determine if we are winning the war or not. Without mass testing, we are totally blind. And when we are blind, the risk is higher of spreading the virus again, thereby wasting the 30-day EQC,” he added.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has already earlier cautioned the Philippine government against lifting the enhanced community quarantine too soon.
To date, Philippine health officials have confirmed 3,018 COVID-19 cases in the country.
Of the number, 136 have died while 52 have so far recovered.
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