ECQ again? Bayan Muna says gov’t must focus on ‘enhanced’ COVID-19 response instead
MANILA, Philippines — The government should start looking at ‘enhancing’ its COVID-19 response instead of just relying on lockdowns when things go awry, party-list group and administration critic Bayan Muna said on Friday.
According to Bayan Muna Rep. Ferdinand Gaite, it seems that the administration has relied — and has been content — on raising an enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) at every threat of an outbreak.
Gaite’s statements come after Malacañang announced President Rodrigo Duterte has already approved the resolution from Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infections Diseases (IATF) placing Metro Manila under ECQ due from August 6 to 20, due to the threat of the Delta variant.
“This administration knows nothing but to repeatedly impose and ramp up its invented, unscientific militarized lockdowns while doing nothing to scale up the medical response needed to truly beat the spread of the virus,” the lawmaker said in a statement.
Gaite also questioned what happened to the government’s response after the several surges and lockdowns that accompanied it, implying that instead of improving every lockdown, the actions of the administration regressed.
“The earlier lockdowns were supposed to be used to give us some respite and to implement needed medical interventions to curb the spread of the virus. But what happened? Testing rates went down, we still lack the capacity to do genomic surveillance, our health care system remain inadequate, the vaccine roll-out continues to be sluggish,” he noted.
“Sablay talaga. Paanong hindi sasablay yan, eh ang mga Heneral na nakaluklok sa pandemic response team nila — sa IATF, ay mas nakatutok sa paggamit sa lockdown para lang paghigpitan ang taumbayan. Para silang faceshield, akala mo lang may silbi pero wala naman talagang naitutulong,” he added, referring to the often criticized requirement to wear face shields.
(It is really bad. But why wouldn’t it fail when military generals are on top of their pandemic response team — the IATF, they’re more focused on using the lockdowns to stifle people’s rights. They’re like face shields, you think they have a purpose but in reality it does not do anything.)
Earlier, the Department of Health reported that the country’s active COVID-19 case shot back to over 60,000, as 8,562 new infections were recorded.
It is not clear whether the stark increase in cases could be attributed to the more infectious COVID-19 Delta variant, but this is the first time since April 26 — back when Metro Manila and nearby provinces were under heightened lockdowns — that daily cases reached over 8,000.
Compared to previous weeks, active case count remained below 60,000 and even went lower than 50,000. Just this Thursday, active case count was at 56,273, while new cases were at 5,735.
The last time that the country registered over 8,000 cases in a day was last April 26, when Metro Manila was also under a lockdown.
Last Wednesday, analytics group OCTA Research speculated that seven percent of the country’s active patients may already be carrying the Delta variant.
But aside from improving their response, Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate said that the government should already try to pass and enact the Bayanihan to Arise as One bill or Bayanihan 3 — and not merely add it to the 2022 budget, which would be passed later this year and would be up for use only by next year.
Such thinking, Zarate said, is “extremely insensitive to the plight of overburdened Filipinos”.
“Kung sa GAA, eh di next year pa yun. Ang ayuda is needed NOW kaya need itong ipasa ASAP. If Duterte can order to immediately replenish funds for dolomite and give sacks of campaign funds to allies, why not certify as urgent the bill for people’s ayuda?” Zarate asked.
“Also experts are saying that we are already in the beginning of a surge due to the Delta variant and another lockdown is being recommended so Bayanihan 3 is imperative now more than ever,” he added.
Earlier, House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco urged the whole Congress to pass and for the Executive branch to enact House Bill No. 9411 or the Bayanihan 3 to provide the much needed stimulus for sectors that would be affected by the lockdown measures.
Congress tried to pass the said bill before the second regular session closed, but it ran out of time to do so.
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
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.