MANILA, Philippines — While some senators are not totally averse to extending the month-long enhanced community quarantine over Luzon, they concede that there should be a delicate balancing act between ensuring health public safety and protecting the economy.
For Senate President Vicente Sotto III, safety and economy should be taken into account when deciding whether or not to extend the quarantine.
“Have to study it well. Balance safety and economy. I agree with the thinking, ‘Life first, Economy later,’” Sotto told reporters in a Viber message.
President Rodrigo Duterte placed the entire Luzon under quarantine as the number of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases in the country soared. The quarantine became effective on March 17 and will be lifted on April 13.
Like Sotto, Senator Panfilo Lacson also said extending the quarantine is “a most difficult decision” as it involved the need to strike a balance between “flattening the curve of COVID-19 and the looming economic recession due to inactivity.”
“It is better left to those who have unlimited access to all the data to decide which is the best course of action to take moving forward. I’m sure if Congress is provided with all those data, we can help in the policy direction,” he said.
Senator Francis Tolentino said that extending the month-long lockdown should have an “empirical basis,” taking the health of the public and the economy into consideration.
“I leave that decision to the President, however, we should have an economic stimulus law to resuscitate the economy in the long term which is likewise a job of Congress,” he said.
Meanwhile, Senator Joel Villanueva said that while he is in favor of extending the quarantine, supply chain experts should be consulted first to ensure that there is sufficient supply of food and basic necessities during the continuation of the quarantine period.
“The increasing incidence of (COVID-19) positive individuals tells us that the pandemic is not yet over. I am in favor of extending the quarantine… At the same time, we have to consult our supply chain experts as we need to probably exempt some sectors in this lockdown, especially the food, manufacturing, and delivery sector,” he said.
The Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on Emerging Infectious Diseases earlier said it is still finalizing parameters in evaluating if the quarantine would be lifted, extended or expanded.
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