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President Rodrigo Duterte reveals that he is all for locking down the country’s urban centers as demanded by doctors, nurses and other frontliners who are overwhelmed by the surge in COVID cases.

But he admits that he has no choice bu to open up the economy and allow Filipinos to earn a living because his government cannot afford to give out P100 billion in social amelioration program every month like he did during the enhanced community quarantine from March to May.

“Alam mo ang mga doktor sabihin ko sa inyo, ‘pag hindi ko na talaga rin silang mapigilan dahil po wala na akong pera na ibigay sa kanila kaya kailangan sila lumabas para magtrabaho. I-lockdown ko, ubos na ‘yung pera na binigay ng Congress. Nabigyan kayo ng ayuda, ‘yung pera panggastos. Wala na ako niyan. Sabi, on your own ka? Totoo. Kailangan lumabas ka para maghanapbuhay para makakain,” said Duterte in a briefing.

“Kung mayroon lang akong pambigay, ibibigay ko sa inyo araw-araw para mabubuhay kayo, makakain. The problem is the funds are already depleted. Deplete na ang ano natin and kailangan natin nang magtrabaho ‘yung iba…So I’m telling the doctors, as much as I would want really to give in to your demands especially in the matter of lockdown — I want it because I do not want the contamination to continue,” he added.

COVID cases have rocketed by more than seven-fold to 136,638 as of August 10 from 18,638 on June 1 when Duterte shifted Metro Manila from modified ECQ to general community quarantine.

Duterte said he was depressed by the COVID surge.

“We have seen both positive and saddening, saddening developments in our continuing battle against COVID-19. Although, we are consistently adding to, and improving on testing capability, as well as enhance our capacity for contact tracing, we have also seen a continuous rise in COVID cases especially in the NCR (National Capital Region),” said Duterte.

“Tapos ito ngayon ‘yung kailangan ko rin bitawan. So do not be surprised if there’s a rise. One, ‘yung ayaw talagang maniwala. That for any reason they want to go — to get out and I don’t know what they want to accomplish. But if it’s food for your family, medyo tatanggapin ko ‘yan kasi hindi ko na kayo mapakain lahat eh. Noon may pambigay ako,” he said.

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