Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has appealed for the unhindered access of Filipinos to vital services and utilities as the country weathers through the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic that has paralyzed daily operations in Metro Manila.
De Lima said the government should carefully balance the necessity, work, and health circumstances of the Filipino people with the month-long imposition of restrictions of movement to contain the growing outbreak of the coronavirus across the country.
“Kailangan po nating pagtuunan ng pansin, hindi lang ang mga apektado na ng sakit, kundi pati na ang mga kababayan nating mas nangangailangan at matagal nang pinagkakaitan ng maayos na serbisyo,” she said in her Dispatch from Crame 732.
“Silang laging nakikipagsapalaran sa hirap at mas humaharap sa banta ng pagkakasakit—ang mga araw-araw na binubuno ang pagsisiksikan sa MRT at LRT; ang mga contractual workers na sa kabila ng peligrong dala ng bagyo, lindol, malalang sakit o delubyo ay papasok pa rin para may masweldo; ang maghapon-magdamag na kumakayod at nagpapagod sa trabaho pero kapos pa rin ang inihahaing pagkain para sa pamilya,” she added.
To date, health authorities have reported that 12 individuals have died due to coronavirus infection while 142 others have reportedly confirmed to be infected. Millions of workers, however, struggle to attend to their daily occupations despite the grave threat to their health and safety of contracting the deadly virus.
On the second day of the community quarantine last March 16, many commuters had difficulty catching rides within Metro Manila as part of the government-imposed preventive measure to slow down the spread of COVID-19.
Some commuters noted that there are less public transportation vehicles on the road as authorities have implemented “social distancing”
measures that limited the number of passengers per jeepney, bus and coaches of the metrorail transits.
The lady Senator from Bicol also pointed out that Filipino public, especially among workers, deserve clear-cut guidelines that are clearly and properly communicated to them by authorities to avoid public panic and anxiety.
“During times of crisis, our government should ensure that access to reliable public utilities and vital services remain unhindered. All should have access to right information, healthy food, clean supply of water, among others, to enable us to survive the brunt of the coronavirus pandemic,” she said.
“We need a government and a leader who can serve assiduously and communicate clearly. Let’s stop foolish bravado, nonsensical jokes and hysteria, and provide clear guidance and direction to contain the further spread of the virus and its grave impact to our lives and economy,” she emphasized.
De Lima, who chairs the Committee on Social Justice, Welfare and Rural Development in the Senate, encouraged everyone to think not only for their own welfare and safety but also of others, especially among those who are most vulnerable.
“Hindi rin po matatapos ang epidemya kung sarili at kapamilya lamang ang sinisikap nating maisalba. Lalong kakalat ang sakit kung magpapanic at kung uunahin ang pagka-makasarili,” she pleaded.
“Ngayon, higit kailanman, tinatawagan tayong magkaisa, mag-ingat, magmalasakit, magdasal,” she added.
Last March 13, the four-member minority bloc in the Senate has sought for immediate clarifications about the implementation of the “community quarantine,” including steps to ensure the ingress of food and other necessities.
It also called for appropriate and immediate measures to stabilize the economy amid the paralysis of public and private offices and the safety of police and military personnel, and health workers manning checkpoints around the metro, among others.
De Lima has also joined urgent calls for a special session to pass a supplemental budget to address the obvious lack of resources needed to contain the coronavirus across the country.