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By JOHN CARLO M. CAHINHINAN

House committee on ways and means chair Joey Salceda has asked the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) to reconsider the lifting of the enhanced community policy (ECQ) policy in his home province of Albay.

Albay said his appeal was based on the recommendations made by the Albay chapters of the League of Municipalities (LMP) and the Philippine Councilors Leage (PCL), as well as the the councils of Legazpi City and the Municipality of Daraga.

“We hope the IATF will reconsider the appeal of the mayors and the councilors of Albay. All 18 mayors were unanimous in appealing for the extension of ECQ,” he said.

“Albay’s R0 is approaching 2 again (on the average),” he said. R0 represents how many people an average person with a virus infects.

“We want to return to normal, but there’s little evidence that we should, and we want to get this right,” said Salceda.

He noted that out of 50 cases in Bicol as of May 1, 28 cases are in Albay—representing 56 percent of cases for a province with just 23 percent of Bicol’s population.

Salceda said he is worried over the mentioned figures, considering that it’s almost the same “risk levels from mid-April.”

“Sad to say, we are the infection cluster in Bicol. So, if you want to prevent further transmissions in the region, you have to defeat the virus here,” he stressed.

Albay’s ECQ was already downgraded to general community quarantine (GCQ) policy starting Friday, May 1.

The lawmaker warned that the drastic change in the status of Albay also gives little time for the economy to adjust.

“The people won’t instantly have the means to support themselves, but with this drastic change, Albay will lose access to the Social Amelioration Program (SAP) and we need to settle our bills and our loans,” Salceda stressed.

“To think about economics and epidemiology along provincial boundaries, as if everything goes back to normal with one stroke of the pen, I think is not a very prudent policy to take,” he added.

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