MANILA – Local government units (LGUs) should be able to declare a local state of calamity to combat the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) in their respective areas, Senator Francis Tolentino said on Tuesday.
In an interview, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Local Government said LGUs should be able to declare a local state of calamity if the number of Covid-19 cases in their areas reaches an “alarming level.”
“Enable our LGUs to declare a local state of calamity as warranted depending on the number of positive cases. With that, it would unleash the utilization of calamity funds that would enable them to set up the appropriate medical emergency mechanisms to deal with the situation,” Tolentino said.
He made the proposal after noting that under existing laws, LGUs can only declare a local state of emergency in case of disasters like typhoons and floods.
“My suggestion is for the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Commission on Audit (COA) recognize the coronavirus scare or epidemic as a ground to enable the LGUs to declare a local state of calamity,” he said.
Tolentino also said he favors a localized lockdown rather than a Metro Manila-wide lockdown, which could cripple the country’s economy.
“Localized, certain areas, barangays, especially those that have many positive cases, pwede yun (that can be done),” he said.
Imposing a lockdown over Metro Manila, he said, should be studied very carefully and should only be done in a “very extreme health emergency,” like in what is happening in Lombardy, Italy and Wuhan, China.
“Dapat siguro araling mabuti yun kasi malaki ang epekto sa ekonomiya. Nandito lahat (It should be studied carefully because of its big effect in the economy. Everything is here), Philippine Stock Exchange, Central Administrative Region, Central Government. It will cripple the entire economy of the nation. We will stand still as a nation,” Tolentino said.
President Rodrigo Duterte has placed the Philippines under a state of public health emergency amid the rapid rise in confirmed Covid-19 cases in the country, mostly in Metro Manila.
The country has so far 33 confirmed cases of Covid-19, including one fatality: a Chinese national from Wuhan City, China, where the virus was first reported late last year. (PNA)