MANILA — House Majority Leader Martin Romualdez on Tuesday expressed support for President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision to impose a Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Romualdez said the latest directive is needed as part of the government’s containment and mitigation efforts “in our fight for survival as a nation.”
“I enjoin our people to set aside politics in the meantime and unite for once as we seek long-lasting solutions to stop the spread of the dreaded virus in our communities. Our concern at the moment is how to keep our families safe at all costs,” Romualdez said.
He assured the public that Congress is in close coordination with the executive branch to identify ways to minimize the economic and social costs of the lockdown scenario.
House ways and means committee chair Joey Salceda said the enhanced quarantine would deny the coronavirus room to spread and would help ensure that the country’s health system is not overwhelmed by cases.
“Obey the lockdown, it will save 1,565 lives. It could be yours or your loved ones. No lockdown, the mass transmission will kill 4.13 percent of GDP (gross domestic product). A lockdown will decrease GDP by only 2.95 percent. It saves lives and saves the economy,” Salceda said.
“My office has done the numbers. The lockdown will prevent up to 26,500 more infections by May 4, when Congress’s session resumes. President Duterte’s decision will be game-changing and life-saving. By the decision, the President has protected thousands of lives and Filipino families,” he added.
Salceda said Congress is prepared to assist in authorizing and operationalizing mitigating measures to help combat the disease.
“I myself am proposing a PHP199 billion package of measures to assist Filipino families,” Salceda said, noting that he has filed the Filipino Families First Coronavirus Response Bill.
Marikina City Rep. Stella Quimbo is also supportive of the enhanced community quarantine to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
“Napatunayan sa karanasan ng ibang bansa na ang ‘stay at home’ policy ang pinakamabisang hakbang sa pagsugpo ng virus. Tanggapin na natin na hindi magiging perpekto ang implementation nito. Pero imbis na reklamo, tumulong tayo sa solusyon (A ‘stay-at-home’ policy implemented in other countries has been proven an effective measure to combat the virus. Let’s accept the fact that its implementation will never be perfect. But instead of complaining, let’s all contribute to the solution),” Quimbo said.
Quimbo noted that there are existing problems arising from the lockdown, such as the lack of available means of transportation for employees exempted from quarantine and the cash transfers for “no work, no pay” workers.
She suggested that the government fund and utilize existing Point-to-Point buses to exclusively transport exempted employees including health workers, government workers in checkpoints, private workers in groceries, drugstores, food delivery establishments, banking institutions, and water and electric companies.
As for the cash transfers, Quimbo said around PHP97 billion is needed to provide one-month financial assistance to about 7 million workers who are hired on a “no work, no pay” basis in Luzon.
She urged the government to allot a huge allocation to fund the necessary social and economic protection measures amid the Covid-19 crisis.
“In Luzon, we have over 333 thousand health care workers. In addition to transportation, they need protection and proper compensation. This can cost PHP4.8 billion for one month,” she said.
“If the government will deploy 10 percent of its entire workforce for its skeletal force, then these are about 195,000 workers. Again, they need transportation, protection, and compensation. This can cost PHP2 billion for one month,” she added.
Implementing an “enhanced” community quarantine means all households need to observe “strict” home quarantine and their movement should be limited to accessing basic necessities, according to a Palace memorandum signed on Monday.
An “enhanced” community quarantine also imposes regulation on the provision for food and essential health services, and orders heightened presence of uniformed personnel to enforce quarantine procedures.
Mass public transportation is also suspended in Luzon.
Soldiers, policemen, authorized government workers, health workers, and other individuals with other essential services are exempted from the imposition of an “enhanced” community quarantine. (PNA)