‘Better safe than sorry!’ Senators support extended quarantine period
MANILA, Philippines — Saying it is better to be safe than sorry, Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Tuesday backed the extension of the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine enforced nearly a month ago to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
“April 30 extension seems to be reasonable considering the fact that DOH has no clear projection yet of how things are evolving. Better safe than sorry!” Sotto said in a message to reporters.
“The extension is to solve the health concerns on the spread of the virus. (Regarding) budget, there is no problem at all as far as I know. (Government) can solve the needs for funds,” he added.
President Rodrigo Duterte has approved the extension of the enhanced community quarantine until April 30, according to Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, the spokesperson of the country’s COVID-19 inter-agency task force.
The chief executive earlier placed the entire Luzon under an enhanced community quarantine as the number of COVID-19 cases in the country continued to increase. The quarantine became effective on March 17 and was initially set to be lifted on April 13.
“Lockdown extension to April 30 is justified. Testing can catch up, we can gauge real public health situation,” Senator Sonny Angara said over Twitter.
At the same time, Angara said that government must ensure that basic needs are delivered.
Lockdown extension to April 30 is justified. Testing can catch up,we can gauge real public health situation. Basic needs must be delivered
— Sonny Angara (@sonnyangara) April 6, 2020
Opposition Senator Risa Hontiveros also supported the extended quarantine considering that mass testing would only begin on April 14.
“Dapat tuluy-tuloy ang ECQ kung gusto nating maging epektibo ito (mass testing),” she said in tweet.
(The ECQ should continue if we want this to be effective.)
Am for the extension of the enhanced community quarantine [ECQ]. Dahil sa April 14 pa Lang magsisimula ang mass testing, dapat tuluy-tuloy ang ECQ kung gusto nating maging epektibo ito.
Pero siguraduhing may sapat na suporta para sa mga kababayan nating lalo pang maaapektuhan.
— risa hontiveros (@risahontiveros) April 7, 2020
“Pero siguraduhing may sapat na suporta para sa mga kababayan nating lalo pang maaapektuhan (But we need to ensure that enough support is given to the public, especialy to those most affected),” she added.
Senator Joel Villanueva also agreed with the extension of the enhanced community quarantine.
“Data clearly shows that our sacrifice the past month will all be for naught if the quarantine is lifted next week as the trend indicates more cases will be recorded in the coming days,” he said in a statement.
“Our government’s rising capacity to conduct tests is also a welcome development. The sooner we detect and isolate COVID-19 patients, the faster we will be able to manage the spread of the disease,” he further said.
The senator, likewise, underscored the need to speed up the distribution of relief to the poorest of the poor and the vulnerable sector of the society.
“We hope that our government considers providing wage support to workers in the MSME (micro, small, and medium enterprises) who are under the minimum wage and no work, no pay sector,” Villanueva, chair of the Senate labor committee, said.
“We expect that despite the initial hitch in the distribution, the DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development) will make the necessary adjustments to expedite the relief distribution,” he added.
Meanwhile, Senator Francis Tolentino said that with the extension of the Luzon-wide quarantine, the government should prepare an “immediate economic recovery program as a pillar of societal resuscitation.”
“We have to support the extension of the ECQ for the general welfare of society, but hand in hand with the health measures we should now prepare for an immediate economic recovery program as a pillar of societal resuscitation,” he said in a separate message to reporters.
Senator Panfilo Lacson, for his part, said Congress “will not shirk from our responsibility to do our own research and recommend to the executive on how to move forward.”
To date, Philippine health authorities have confirmed 3,660 cases of COVID-19 in the country.
Of the number, 163 have died while 73 patients have recovered.
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