Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano supported the proposal to expand the government’s community quarantine to the Greater Manila area to include neighboring provinces such as Bulacan, Cavite, parts of Laguna, and Rizal.
In a press conference, Cayetano said the community quarantine should cover the nearby provinces in the outskirts of the country’s capital, considering that around 4 million daily Metro Manila workers reside in these areas.
Malacañang has placed Metro Manila under community quarantine from March 15 to April 14, 2020 after the inter-agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases raised the highest Code Red Sub-Level 2 alert because of the rise of community transmission of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).
“So kung ano natin (If our [goal]) is to stop the disease pero may 2 to 4 million kang labas-pasok mahihirapan ka pa rin na i-minimize ang pag-spread (but there are around 2 to 4 million Filipinos who come in and out [of Metro Manila}, then we would still have difficulties minimizing the spread). Pero (However), we don’t want to call off all economic activities, pati trabaho (including work), because we don’t want naman people dying of hunger or being economically destitute,” Cayetano said.
“But most, if not all, of the workers who are coming in to Metro Manila come from Calabarzon and Rizal and Laguna. Meaning, kung ‘yung community mo is Greater Metro Manila, less ang problema ng pulis sa 2 to 3 million na pumapasok araw-araw (Meaning, if the community includes Greater Metro Manila, the police would have less problems dealing with 2 to 3 million coming in everyday),” he added.
House Minority Leader Bienvenido Abante Jr. Said backed the proposal, saying that the long lines and crowds at the checkpoints currently set up to restrict entry into Metro Manila would defeat the purpose of the community quarantine.
“The long lines, as we can see, are unavoidable because a substantial segment of the populations of these nearby provinces work in Metro Manila as these towns––like Cainta, Rizal, for example––are right next to NCR (National Capital Region) cities,” Abante said.
“By expanding the coverage of the community quarantine to include the GMA, we can better allocate our military and police personnel and reduce the crowds and traffic jams we now see at our checkpoints,” he added.
According to Abante, he and the House leadership were keenly observing the implementation of government measures that have been adopted to slow the spread of the Covid-19 outbreak in order to provide “constructive proposals” to make these more effective.
“We know everyone is doing their best to address this public health crisis, and we commend all those in the frontlines, such as our health workers, civil servants, police, and military personnel,” he said.
“While social distancing measures impact the way we in Congress do our jobs, we are still obligated to serve our constituents. First, by serving as examples with regard to the precautions, government has asked each citizen to take. Second, by performing our duties as legislators, particularly our oversight functions. And third, by maximizing our personal resources to reach out to those who need our help,” he added.
Aside from the 30-day community quarantine, Metro Manila residents are also required to observe strict social distancing and avoid mass gatherings.
Uniformed personnel and quarantine personnel were also placed in border points to apprehend motorists who defy the order and check the temperatures of those allowed to travel.
President Rodrigo Duterte is expected to make a public address on government measures to contain Covid-19 after meeting with members of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases. (PNA)