Senators Franklin Drilon and Sherwin Gatchalian favor extending the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine until April 30 to give the government more time to assess if its efforts in controlling the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
In a statement Friday (April 3), Drilon said effects of the enhanced community quarantine have only started to show three weeks after its declaration on March 15.
“I see some data that shows it is effective. But too early to tell. An extra two weeks would help,” he said.
Gatchalian, meanwhile, based his support for the two-week extension on the government’s announcement that mass testing for COVID-19 will start on April 14.
“Mass testing of PUMs (persons under monitoring) and PUIs (persons under investigation) is the only way to determine if we are winning the war or not. Without mass testing, we are totally blind. And when we are blind, the risk is higher of spreading the virus again, thereby wasting the 30-day ECQ (enhanced community quarantine),” he said.
Drilon said the government could consider relaxing the ECQ by May, though travel to and from Luzon, as well as mass gatherings will still be prohibited.
But during those two weeks, ensure food supply and movement of essential goods and services.
“What is essential is more jobs and livelihood as well as access to food and supplies. Hence, open to more manufacturing (esp food, but also non food and supply chain) and critical construction (power plants, infrastructure but not Paolo’s house). This way, more people have income,” he said.
Drilon said retail and consumer services, as well as markets, could resume operations by June. He said there could be also be partial operations of public transportation, though jeepneys and buses will still be banned due to the protocol on observing social distancing.
President Rodrigo Duterte has yet to announce whether the ECQ will be lifted by April 14 or extended.
As of 4 p.m. Friday, the number of COVID-19 cases in the Philippines has reached 3,018, with 136 deaths.