MANILA, Philippines — Bayan Muna minced no words in describing the national government’s decision to put Metro Manila, Laguna, Cavite, Bulacan, and Rizal under enhanced community quarantine — more than a year after the same measure was put in place to curb the effects of COVID-19.
“Placing the National Capital Region (NCR) + under the Enchanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) without massive free mass testing, aggressive contact tracing, effective and timely isolation and treatment as well as fast tracking the vaccination roll out would just be repeating the same militarist, inefficient and highly ineffective lockdowns done by the Duterte administration for more than a year now,” House Deputy Minority Leader Carlos Zarate of Bayan Muna said in a statement issued on Saturday
“Placing these areas again under ECQ is a tacit admission by the administration na pumalpak ito [that it failed]; that it bungled big time the COVID pandemic crisis. It is proof, too, of its calamitous failure to listen to the health experts early on,” he added.
The national government placed NCR Plus under a week-long ECQ, mimicking the measure it first had in March 2020 after the Philippines registered continuous spikes in the number of COVID-19 cases.
Zarate said that mass testing should still be implemented in 2021, and he recommended that 140,000 to 160,000 COVID-19 tests be conducted every day to pinpoint the areas that the virus had spread wildly.
These tests, he said, would then allow for better contact tracing efforts leading to the proper isolation of those who’ve had contact with a positive individual, who should be isolated and given treatment.
Apart from vigorous contact tracing, vaccinations should also be ramped up as per Zarate.
“Health workers should also have their salaries and benefits given to them as soon as possible. More importantly, ‘ayuda’ or assistance should be given to the affected residents, particularly the poor, affected by the lockdown,” said Zarate who also called for the abolition of Inter-Agency Task Force.
The IATF has drawn much criticism, with the public and legislators question why former military officials were appointed as the top figures in a fight of a medical nature.
“The Duterte administration should replace now the composition of the IATF or abolish it entirely. They had more than a year to make this right but they gravely failed. They should stop toying, even clowning, with the lives of Filipinos,” Zarate. said.
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