Chinese-Filipino business group backs selective quarantine
MANILA, Philippines — As government leaders debate whether to extend the month-long Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) to contain the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19), the Chinese-Filipino business community on Saturday called for a framework that would impose mandatory quarantine only on certain cities or barangays.
The proposal of the Federation of Filipino Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry Inc. (FFCCCII)—the umbrella organization of 11 major Chinese-Filipino organizations in the country—is broadly in line with the earlier proposal made by presidential adviser for entrepreneurship Jose Ma. Concepcion III for a transition to “selective quarantine” at the barangay level for two more weeks after the lapse of the current ECQ.
However, there are likewise warnings against a premature lifting of the lockdown.
“In the time of the virus, men should be ahead of business,” said economist Diwa Guinigundo, former Deputy Governor of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.
“An extended lockdown precisely serves the cause of a more sustainable economic growth in the long run. If we err in lifting the lockdown earlier than necessary, we might see a resurgence of the virus and another lockdown may then be absolutely necessary,” Guinigundo said in an interview.
Unless extended by the government, the ECQ—which is now entering its fourth week — will expire on April 12 in Luzon and on April 14 in Metro Manila.
“We have done it for a month. What is a few more weeks?” Guinigundo said.
Removal of checkpoints
FFCCCII, through its chair Henry Lim Bon Liong, appealed to the government to “revive the Philippine economy and the people’s livelihoods” after the one-month ECQ.
Citing the need to balance public health with the people’s economic welfare, FFCCCII urged the government to modify the lockdown framework into targeted municipality or city and barangay quarantine.
“We recommend removal of checkpoint barriers but continued selected community quarantines through mayors of towns or cities and through the barangays,” the group said.
Concepcion had explained that 14 days in quarantine was already a proven number to determine whether a person had been infected or not. The monthlong ECQ, he said, effectively allowed two “resets” of the ideal quarantine period.
“We’re saying that if there’s gonna be a third reset—and we believe there should be a third reset—it should not be the same,” Concepcion said.
By narrowing the focus of the quarantine down to the barangays that have been identified as COVID-19 hot spots, Concepcion said the military and police could be redeployed to these areas.
“By drilling down and protecting different barangays, we give incentive to the barangays that are able to police their area well and try to prevent the virus from coming in. When you lock down an entire province, even the healthy barangays are penalized,” he said.
Under selective quarantine, Concepcion said the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases should eventually come up with the guidelines on what would prompt the barangay captain and the mayor to lock down a particular barangay for a certain number of days. The trigger could be a certain number of confirmed COVID-19 cases for a certain barangay to be considered a hot spot.
“The advantage of that is others without the virus don’t get locked down. They can move freely with commerce,” Concepcion said. “It allows better identification and eventually a mapping of where the virus hot spots are.”
“Between the choice of lives lost to COVID and lives lost to hunger, our goal is to reduce the total number of lives lost,” he stressed.
FFCCCII also backed Concepcion’s proposal to allow all manufacturing, agricultural and construction work with skeleton staff.
The Chinese-Filipino group’s other proposals are as follows:
- Continue the ban on crowds or mass gatherings, including mall operations, until the crisis is over.
- Resume public transportation, including domestic air travel, but at reduced levels.
- Support micro, small and medium-scale enterprises through loan relief for a few months, extension of low-interest loans and other timely technical support.
The Inquirer Foundation supports our healthcare frontliners and is still accepting cash donations to be deposited at Banco de Oro (BDO) current account #007960018860 or donate through PayMaya using this link .
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.