While suggestions for stricter lockdowns to curb the continuing increase in COVID cases may make sense at this time, such lockdowns should be time-bound to protect a still-battered economy, Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson said Friday.
Lacson said an enhanced community quarantine (ECQ)-type lockdown whose length is “open-ended” can threaten to kill the economy that has yet to recover from a similar measure last year.
“I would support a time-bound ECQ-type lockdown but only in areas with an unusually high number of COVID infections, so as not to further punish an already suffering economy. For now, these may include identified areas in Metro Manila, Calabarzon and Central Visayas as the daily records would indicate,” Lacson said.
The time-bound nature will allow the business sector to “plan in advance their way forward and make adjustments in their business activities like production, marketing and the like,” he added.
Considering that the economy is reeling from a prolonged lockdown which directly affects not only individual and family income but the country’s revenue collections as well, thus draining the coffers like an open faucet, it is wise for our policy makers to ease up the restrictions currently being imposed.
As long as physical distancing and other protocols are strictly observed and enforced by authorities, I support this latest plan to allow business activities to resume, even on a limited scale.
Having said that, I hope the finer details of the decision to ease the quarantine restrictions would be based on sound data, and not just that of the Department of Health, whose limitations in handling data may potentially lead to wrong decisions. After all, we all do want to stay alive even during a lockdown.
In an interview on DWIZ, Sen. Lacson answered questions on:
* extension of ECQ/lockdown [0:19]
* need for discipline during ECQ [4:07]
* barangay officials’ problems [10:02]
* sayang ang National ID system [14:04]
* May 4 session resumption; options on legislative calendar [18:09]
* test period for DOH Sec Duque [22:40]
Definitely, the President’s warning to have “troublemakers” during the enhanced community quarantine shot was exaggerated and harsh. But coming from this President, what else is new?
However, having been immersed in intelligence and law-enforcement work for more than two decades in my previous life, I couldn’t help but suggest to authorities to thoroughly investigate if the “riot” in Quezon City involving protesters demanding aid – but in violation of the Enhanced Community Quarantine – was indeed a valid “hunger-driven” spontaneous act of people who simply lost their patience out of exasperation, or a politically instigated act of violence by sinister groups out to take advantage and destabilize the administration and duly constituted authority.
As such, concerned authorities may opt to look into the possibility that Wednesday’s incident could be a “dry run” to test public sentiment as well as the ability of law enforcers to respond. At least one group, Kadamay, has posted on its Facebook page an “invitation” to an event scheduled for April 1.
There is no saying however, that all protests during the ECQ should be presumed as politically instigated. Yet, it cannot be denied that there may be groups with motive to exploit the volatility of the situation to advance their own political agenda.
Hence, law enforcement authorities may not be legally equipped to conduct arrest unless local ordinances are available for its enforcement.
For its part, Congress may need to amend R.A. 9271 to adapt to this new normal, the COVID-19, and God knows what else would come to hit us in the future. Hopefully we’ve seen the last of its kind even as we pray that cure will come sooner than soon.
Having said that, the people are enjoined to fully cooperate. After all, these are extraordinary times that call for extraordinary measures.
The Metro Manila “lockdown,” “community quarantine,” or whatever the authorities may call it, is one decisive action taken by the government that needs the support of our people, no matter the sacrifices or inconvenience it brings.
But then again, government must lose no time in coming up with practical but effective ways of implementing it to serve its real purpose for our country to survive this unprecedented crisis that we are facing.
For its part, the Department of Health’s Inter-Agency Task Force (DOH-IATF) should issue clear, simple and concise guidelines on dealing with COVID-19 to prevent confusion among the public, as so many doctors and medical experts have been expressing different opinions on it, particularly on its transmission.