MANILA – Malacañang on Monday denied that the national government refused to label as “lockdown” the additional restrictions in Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal to control the spread of Covid-19 due to a lack of funds which will be used for supposed aid for poor Filipino families.
This, after President Rodrigo Duterte earlier approved additional restrictions in Metro Manila and the four provinces by placing them under a general community quarantine (GCQ) bubble where only essential travel in and out is allowed.
In a virtual press briefing, Roque said the government only opted to limit mobility because the economy could not afford to go through another lockdown which will result in loss of jobs and livelihood of even more Filipinos.
“Hindi naman po sa kawalan ng ayuda ‘yan. Kung talagang kinakailangan, nothing is etched in stone, kung talagang kinakailangan at ito’y hindi maging sapat eh baka konsiderasyon pa rin iyan. Pero sa ngayon po, talagang kinikilala na natin ang problema ng pagkagutom na magriresulta kapag sinarado po natin ang ekonomiya. So pigilan natin ang mobility pero hayaan nating maghanapbuhay ang lahat (It’s not because we lack funds. If it’s necessary, nothing is etched in stone, if it’s necessary and this is not enough we can consider that. But right now, we recognize the problem of hunger that will result if we close the economy. So we are only limiting mobility to allow others to earn a living),” he said.
MMDA Chair Benjamin “Benhur” Abalos Jr., for his part, pointed out that granular or localized lockdowns are still being implemented in areas with high Covid-19 cases.
“Mayroon pa rin pong lockdown (There are still lockdowns) but these are just granular lockdowns which the mayors still say is more effective because in a way ‘no, iyon ang clustering of cases ang nalilimitahan mo, bibigyan pa ng ayuda ‘yan ng gobyerno (you limit the clustering of cases and the government continues to give aid) through the mayors and of course the healthy population can still go to work – and this where you calibrate the health with the economy. It’s still being done, the lockdowns, but it’s on a micro level, granular,” he said in the virtual presser.
Meanwhile, Roque also assured that assistance for companies, especially micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), are still being provided by concerned agencies.
“Ang [Department of Labor and Employment] po natin patuloy iyong pagbibigay ng [Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers] Program,” he said.
Under the Bayanihan laws, billions of pesos were allocated to fund the government’s social amelioration program (SAP) which granted a PHP5,000 to PHP8,000 monthly cash aid to low-income Filipino families affected by the pandemic.
The cash aid program was said to be the “largest financial aid package ever granted to Filipino households.”
The country has seen over 8,000 daily infections as new Covid-19 variants have been detected.
As of Monday, the country has recorded 671,792 confirmed Covid-19 cases of which 12,972 are deaths and 577,850 are recoveries.
Roque attributed the spike in Covid-19 cases to new variants, low masking compliance, super spreader events, gatherings, reduced surveillance, reduced contact tracing, and delayed testing.
“Sinabi nga po ng ilang mga personalidad na nagkaroon po kasi talaga ng vaccine confidence. Kumbaga parang after one year na pagod na pagod tayo e umasa tayo dahil nandiyan ang bakuna pupuwede nang huwag masyado maghigpit. Pero natutunan na po natin kinakailangan talaga (Some personalities have said that people have develop vaccine confidence. After a year, Filipinos anticipated the vaccine that’s why restrictions were eased. But we learned that) we must be on the guard all the time against Covid-19,” he said. (PNA)