DAVAO CITY, Philippines – The Philippine government has put Luzon in “enhanced community quarantine” as part of its state of public health emergency measures meant to combat the coronavirus disease-2019 (Covid-19).
President Rodrigo Duterte announced this in a televised address on Monday, March 16.
Duterte said that stricter measures are necessary upon further study of worldwide trends and measures.
“Pursuant to my powers as President under the Constitution and Republic Act No. 11332, I am placing the entire mainland of Luzon under [Community] Quarantine until April 12, 2020, coinciding with the end of Holy Week,” he said.
The development came after the confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the Philippines rose to 140, with 12 deaths.
“Strict home quarantine shall be implemented in all households; transportation shall be suspended; provision for food and essential services shall be regulated, and heightened presence of uniformed personnel to enforce quarantine procedures will be implemented,” said the memorandum signed by Duterte.
The women’s party-list group Gabriela Women’s Party, meanwhile, said in a statement that the government’s initial implementation of the community quarantine in Metro Manila on March 15 did not observe social distancing measures.
Checkpoints along the boundaries of Metro Manila saw long queues of thousands of workers entering or leaving the metropolis, the women’s group said.
Thousands of commuters also packed bus terminals to leave the national capital before the initial Metro Manila-wide quarantine took effect on March 15.
The party-list group also lamented the economic costs incurred now by displaced workers because of the community quarantine.
“They are suffering from economic shock, and are ill-equipped to counter Covid-19 risks since they cannot afford preventive healthcare costs,” the group added.
It called on the Office of the President to use the P4.5 billion intelligence and confidential funds to bankroll a health-oriented response to the pandemic.
These include the procurement of testing kits and the hiring of additional health workers.
The group added that the national government can maximize the Department of Labor and Employment’s P13 billion contingency fund for one-month cash assistance to all affected workers regardless of status, including contractual and informal sector workers, substantial unemployment benefits to those who will be laid off instead of emergency employment programs, suspend the collection of monthly bills including water and electricity, and extend P10,000 minimum financial assistance to households affected by the lockdown, with priority for low-income families.
“Enforcing such measures will ensure that the current health crisis will not fully escalate into a full-blown economic meltdown and to ensure the effective containment of the COVID-19 by encouraging workers to skip work,” Gabriela Women’s Party also said. (davaotoday.com)