Abrupt lockdown poses many dangers, says labor group
MANILA, Philippines — The decision to quickly place Metro Manila and the provinces of Bulacan, Rizal, Cavite and Laguna under a modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) again poses a lot of risks to the public, a labor group claimed.
Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP) said on Monday that President Rodrigo Duterte’s hasty decision to put those places under MECQ would force people to go into panic buying of goods in anticipation of the two-week lockdown, which runs from Aug. 4 to 18.
According to BMP President Luke Espiritu, it seems that the national government has not learned anything from the blunders it allegedly committed before, when the whole of Luzon was under lockdown due to the pandemic.
“Is the Duterte Cabinet and the IATF incapable of learning from the many failures of the previous lockdown? How do they expect to control panic buying when they only give one-day notice before they enforce another strict lockdown? How will they ensure transport for those working in essential businesses allowed to operate during MECQ when all transport is once again suspended?” Espiritu asked
“Most importantly, how will they support the millions of workers, unemployed, and those in the informal sector still reeling from mass layoffs and economic downturn without first ensuring sufficient amelioration programs for the duration of the new lockdown?” he added.
Last March, after news spread of a possible lockdown over Metro Manila, people rushed towards groceries and hoarded essential supplies like food, masks, alcohol, and other hygiene materials — which basically left shops without disinfectants to sell and consumers on the lower end of the spectrum without anything to buy.
The same scenario ensued earlier, with photos circulating over social media showing people lining up to enter groceries and stores a day before the MECQ takes effect.
President Duterte appeared on national television on Sunday night supposedly to respond to calls of health workers for a break, as hospitals and health facilities had been overwhelmed with the rising number of COVID-19 patients.
While Duterte implemented the MECQ and vowed to give allowances to nurses, he also criticized them for demeaning the government by airing their sentiments publicly when they could have reached out to officials through a private letter.
He also accused them of threatening to start a revolution, although the Healthcare Professions Alliance against COVID-19 insisted that they were making a request.
Meanwhile, the inadequacy of the government’s social amelioration program — which failed to reach some families severely affected by the work suspensions brought by the COVID-19 lockdowns — have forced people to continue businesses despite the quarantine status disallowing such activities.
Most sellers have played a cat-and-mouse game with authorities, with several offenders arrested for doing business as they have nothing left to eat.
As of now, the government has not yet fully distributed the second tranche of the SAP, which was should have been done last June.
BMP claimed that the health workers were not primarily looking for another lockdown but rather hoping that there would be changes in the government’s approach to the health crisis.
“The Duterte Regime did not actually heed the call for ‘timeout’ from our frontliners because among their calls was sufficient social amelioration for all affected by a lockdown,” Espiritu noted.
“The administration’s haphazard reinstatement of MECQ demonstrates that they did not understand or blatantly refuse to address one of the main criticisms of their pandemic response that medical experts and professionals conveyed last August 1: the lack of a coherent plan that prioritizes health over profits,” he added.
The total number of COVID-19 cases nationwide is still increasing at an alarming rate, with patients now at 106,330 after the Department of Health reported 3,226 cases on Monday.
Of the total, 2,104 have died while 65,821 patients have recovered.
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