By Argyll Geducos
Malacañang said Filipinos are “an embarrassment” as it blamed the public’s non-compliance with quarantine restrictions for the rise of the number of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases in the country.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque made the statement after recent data showed that the Philippines was the leading country in the Southeast Asian region with 5,453 confirmed COVID-19 cases, followed by Malaysia with 5,072 cases.
In a virtual press briefing on Thursday, Roque scolded the public, saying this was due to them not following quarantine restrictions.
“Ang ginagawa nga po natin, unang-una nananawagan, nakikiusap sa lahat ng mga Pilipino. Ang dami pong pasaway sa atin! At dahil po diyan, number one na naman tayo sa ASEAN sa dami ng COVID-19. Nakakahiya po ‘yan (We appeal to Filipinos. A lot of us are stubborn and because of that, we are number one in Southeast Asia in the number of COVID-19 cases. That is an embarrassment)!” he said.
“Itigil niyo na ang pagiging pasaway! Manatili kayo sa inyong mga tahanan (Stop being stubborn and stay at home)!” Roque added.
Roque compared the Philippines to other Southeast Asian countries, saying it was only in the country that there is still traffic despite the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).
“Hindi na natin ide-deny ‘yan dahil dapat tayong mga Pilipino mahiya dahil nagpapakita tayo na walang disiplina (We’re not going to deny this because we should be ashamed. We’re only showing that we lack discipline),” he said.
He also asked mothers to enforce the quarantine restrictions in their own homes and make sure that everyone is a “homeliner.”
“Mga nanay, pwede ba ho kayo na ang mag-enforce ng ECQ sa inyong mga tahanan? Mabuti po ‘yan, ‘pag in-enforce niyo ‘yan hindi makakabisita si mister sa kanyang kulasisi (To the mothers, can you please enforce the ECQ in your homes? That’s a good way to make sure that your husbands won’t visit their mistresses),” Roque said.
Total lockdown still an option
Roque, meanwhile, said a total lockdown was not off the table, especially if the people will continue to be stubborn and the number of COVID-19 cases in the country will continue to raise.
“Fake news po yung kumakalat na balita na magkakaroon ng total lockdown. Pero hindi po fake news na kinokonsidera ang total lockdown lalung-lalo na kung magpapatuloy ang mga pasaway sa ating kalsada (The declaration of a total lockdown is fake news. What is not fake news is that is being considered especially if the people will continue going outside),” he said.
“‘Wag na po nating pahabain itong ECQ. Tumupad na po tayo sa ating obligasyon at kaunting panahon na lang po naman ang natitira dito sa ating ECQ (Let’s not prolong the ECQ. Let’s just do out part. We have a few days left),” he added.
Malacañang has repeatedly denied numerous reports that President Duterte will declare a total lockdown that would mean the closure of all establishments including supermarkets, groceries, wet markets, drug stores, banks, and food chains.
Roque, on the other hand, said that a modified enhanced community is also being considered because the Philippines has not flattened the curve yet in terms of total number of COVID-19 cases.
It was also being considered in order to balance the duty of the government to protect its people and the right of the public to make a living.
“Sa available data po natin, sa ngayon hindi pa po natin nafa-flatten ang curve. In an ideal world, habang hindi natin napa-flatten ang curve. Dapat ipagpatuloy ang ECQ (Based on available data, the curve is not flattened yet. In an ideal world, we have to continue with the ECQ),” he said.
“Pero ang realidad kailangan ding magkaroon ng kabuhayan ang ating mga kababayan kaya ngayon pa lang po ay nag-uusap na ang IATF, ang miyembro ng Gabinete, at nag-e-explore ng mga options kung papaano nga ang gagawin. Pupwedeng ipagpatuloy ang ECQ, pwede magkaroon ng modified ECQ (But the reality is the people need to make a living (and) that’s why the IATF and the Cabinet are exploring options on how to make it possible. We can extend the ECQ or there can be a modified ECQ),” he added.
Roque said he was hearing recommendations that modified or limited ECQ can be on the basis of geographic location, comorbidity, or particular industries. He, however, added that nothing was final yet.
Roque, meanwhile, warned local government units (LGUs) that President Duterte will go after them if they fail to enforce the ECQ.
“May kapangyarihan po ang Presidente na parusahan ang mga mayor at barangay captain na naging pabaya sa ganitong katungkulan (The President has the power to punish mayors and barangay captains who will be remiss in their duty),” he said.
“Baka gamitin pa ng Presidente ang kanyang kapangyarihan para parusahan kayo ‘pag kayo ay naging pabaya. At ang patunay na kayo ay naging pabaya ay yung dami ng tao na lalaboy-laboy sa ating mga kalsada (The President may use his power to go after you if you will be remiss in your duty. The proof of your neglect is the number of people roaming around the streets),” he added.