By Genalyn Kabiling
President Duterte has apologized to Filipinos for the “lockdown” being implemented in Luzon, but defended the government’s decision to effectively quell the coronavirus outbreak.
The President explained that the national government carried out such “extreme measure” as the contagion continued to take its toll on some parts of the country.
“We are in a critical time. We have resorted to this extreme measure of enhanced quarantine for Luzon because the magnitude of the threat that we are facing calls for it,” Duterte said in a taped public address early Friday morning.
“By its nature, it severely restricts the freedom of movement of our countrymen and thus deprives many people of their ability of earning living for the coming weeks. Let me add my own words, I’m really very sorry but I have to do it,” he added.
The President recently placed Luzon under an enhanced community quarantine, compelling residents to stay indoors, suspending public transport, encouraging work-from-home arrangements, and imposing travel restrictions.
The month-long Luzon-wide quarantine came following concerns about the rapid increase in the cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) infection in the country. It will last until April 12 “unless earlier lifted or extended as circumstances may warrant.”
In his latest remarks, the President admitted there was now a “lockdown” taking place in Luzon amid soaring cases of infections.
“I don’t think it is just a quarantine. I think that we are already in the stage of a lockdown simply because the contagion continues to take its toll in the countryside,” he said.
He said the country was not alone in implementing a “lockdown” but must lead the way in imposing such measure “strict enough to effectively kill COVID-19, liberal enough so that our people will not die of hunger, and orderly enough, so that our country will not be driven towards chaos during this difficult time”
Duterte also called for the cooperation of the local government units (LGUs) and the public as the national government addresses the latest health emergency.
He directed local government units to follow the quarantine guidelines laid down by the inter-agency task for the management of emerging diseases or else face possible charges.
To help prevent the virus from spreading, Duterte also reminded the public to stay indoors and practice social distancing.
“Better still, just keep your distance from stranger or friends. Just so na maputol ‘yung contamination from A to B, B to C. Kay D putulin natin doon. ‘Yun ang maganda,” he said.
“So it’s actually the socially intercourse that is bad at this time. I hope you can understand us at maintindihan rin ninyo kung ano ang ginagawa namin (and understand what we are doing),” he added.