OF TREES AND FOREST
By FORMER SENATE PRESIDENT MANNY VILLAR
Former Senate President
You are most probably reading this at home, quarantined just like the millions of Metro Manila. The so-called community quarantine of the nation’s capital started last March 15 as a response to the escalating numbers of Filipinos affected by the Coronavirus Disease (Covid-19).
I agree with the decision of the government to restrict the movement of people in and out of the National Capital Region (NCR) for one month. Government has also restricted movement within the metro. In addition, several cities have imposed curfew hours from 8pm to 5am for the duration of the quarantine.
Some people quarrel about the terminology—is it simply a community quarantine or a lockdown? To me this debage does not matter. What is important is that government has instituted these measures in order to protect public health by arresting the surge of the virus.
As of March 16, the number of Filipinos who have been confirmed as Covid-19 positive rose to 140 with 12 deaths. We cannot allow this virus to spread like wildfire. We need to make sure that we can stop the community transmission of Covid-19. This virus has ravaged through different parts of the world with 80,849 positive cases in China, 24,747 in Italy, 13,983 in Iran, 8,162 in South Korea and 7,845 in Spain.
I have heard some complaints about the harshness of these measures. They are indeed extraordinary measures. But these are extraordinary times. We cannot play games or politics with the lives of people at stake. We need to institute these measures now while we still have time. If we don’t stop the spread of the virus, the resulting increase in victims will put so much strain on our health care system.
Businesses will definitely feel the brunt of the quarantine and the curfews. To date several establishments have already announced they are closing or reducing their hours of operations. In our case, we have decided to temporarily close all Vista Malls and Starmalls in the NCR beginning March 16. We have also endeavored to sanitize and disinfect our malls in order to provide a safe and healthy environment for shoppers.
We decided on this because this is the right thing to do. We need to support efforts by government to stop the transmission of the virus. The virtue of these measures will become apparent in the long-term. Sure, it’ll hurt in the short-term but we need to prioritize the health of the nation. I hope Congress can come up with measures to support our workers and small businesses affected by these measures.
I am sure that some are complaining about being confined to their homes. But this is a very important step towards defeating the virus threat. And defeating Covid-19 requires the cooperation of everyone.
Use this time to reconnect with family and loved ones. Cook together, eat together, watch Netflix together. This will allow us to reboot. But more importantly practice good hygiene. Don’t leave the house unless necessary. If you have to go out, be careful and stay safe.
The best weapon against this menace is our vigilance and unity. If we stay together and do the right thing, this virus does not stand a chance.