President Rodrigo Duterte is “inclined” to extend the enhanced community quarantine currently in place over Luzon to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
In a televised address on Monday night, Duterte said government was looking to extend the quarantine to last until April 30.
“We are inclined to extend the lockdown up to April 30. Tingnan natin after that,” Duterte said.
“In the meantime, magdo-double time kami doon sa tinatawag ninyong middle class,” he added.
Duterte made the remark after days of anticipation on whether the government would extend the quarantine over Luzon which is scheduled to be lifted on April 13.
The quarantine, which left many Filipinos without income, has caused the government to cough up more than P270 billion in social assistance funds for the poorest of the poor and low-income households.
Duterte on Monday night said it would not be enough.
“The P100 billion for one month or the P270 billion, for two months yan, naka-program na as earlier estimated, is not enough,” Duterte said.
“I am calling on the SOF to generate, magnakaw ka, maghiram ka, wala akong pakialam. I-produce mo yung pera kasi pag naubos na ito, di ko malaman,” he added.
Duterte asked for assistance from the private sector.
“I address myself to the people who have the money now to help pati yung mga employers. Alam mo, tulungnan ninyo ang gobyerno, ang bayan natin. Kasi pag bumagsak ang gobyerno, bagsak kayong lahat,” Duterte said.
“Sabi ko nga, I end this with a prayer. Gusto ko lang masabi ang ano ang nasa utak ko para maintindihan niyo rin ako. Sana next time I would talk to you, baka mag-improve na ang situation. Whatever be the correction,” he added.
Between the devil and the deep blue sea
In deciding whether or not to extend the enhanced community quarantine, Duterte said he felt he was “between the devil and the deep blue sea.”
“Sa devil and the deep blue sea ako. Ibawal ko ba at wag silang lumabas, hindi kakain ‘yan. Ngayon, kung talagang higpitan mo, which is really the advice of all government agencies, lahat ito ang sinasabi: go inside your house and lock it, do not come out until the pandemic is over,” he said.
He added, “Ang COVID po is science, period. The reason why we are ordering you inside the house is also science, period. Hindi ito ano, kalaban na galing sa… It’s a goddamn micro that’s crawling all over the country, all over the world.”
Support for extension
Several politicians and government officials earlier said they were in favor of extending the quarantine to “flatten the curve” of COVID-19 infections.
The University of the Philippines COVID-19 Pandemic Response Team projected that cases in the country would go down if the quarantine is extended past April 13.
“Our sciences know you cannot release it yet because you will lose the gains… Uulit lang, parang dinelay lang ‘yong pag-happen noong epidemic,” UP Executive Vice President Teodoro Herbosa Jr. said.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III also maintained that the measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 must not be relaxed, citing the effectiveness of the 55-day lockdown in Wuhan, China where the disease broke out.
Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., the chief implementer of the government’s COVID-19 response, earlier said the quarantine may be extended by 15 more days because it managed to slow down the spread of the virus.
Some senators, on the other hand, expressed reservations on extending the quarantine, citing the need to resuscitate the economy that was brought to a halt by COVID-19.
Interior Secretary Eduardo Año earlier said an extension was “not advisable” because it would hurt the economy.
Source: GMA News