By Joseph Almer Pedrajas
Navotas Mayor Toby Tiangco has admitted that the city could not afford a second wave of novel coronavirus infections, saying that this is the reason why the local government appealed again to the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) to place his area under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).
“The city of Navotas, with all due respect, is raising the equal protection clause guaranteed under the Constitution in support of its appeal to be placed under ECQ,” part of the two-page letter, dated May 18, read.
“[The city is also] thereby requesting that the IATF Screening and Validation Committee revisit the reasonableness of the classification and application of the definitions of high, moderate and low risk and determination of the levels of community quarantine equally, as it was applied to the cities of Cebu and Mandaue,” it added.
Tiangco expressed concerns that the number of residents infected with COVID-19 will continue to increase following the relaxation of quarantine guidelines due to Metro Manila’s shifting into modified ECQ.
“Kapag nagka second wave eh back to zero tayo. Ang kinakatakot ko talaga is ‘yung second wave. Dahil sa totoo lang, walang capacity ang local government ng Navotas pag sumobra-sobra ang kaso (We’re back to zero when there’s a second wave of infection and that’s what I fear. Honestly, our local government won’t be capable of handling an excessive number of COVID-19 cases),” the local chief executive said in a radio interview.
“So ang sa akin lang is prevention. Prevention kasi kung iintayin natin yung cases na tumaas, tsaka tayo babalik, reactionary na tayo (For me, it’s about prevention. Prevention because if we have to wait first for our cases to rise again before returning to ECQ, that’s being reactionary),” he added.
In particular, Tiangco is concerned that there would be more people going outside due to the easing of quarantine guidelines, but with only a limited number of law enforcers to implement measures against COVID-19.
“Kung titignan niyo po yung guidelines ng IATF sa MECQ, andami nang puwedeng gawin ng tao na unnecessary (If you will review the IATF guidelines on MECQ, there’s so many things people can do unnecessarily),” he said.
“How can [law enforcers] manage na bantayan yung ganoon ka-rami kung hindi naman sila nadadagdagan? Pano nila mamomonitor yung social distancing and wearing of face mask? (How can law enforcers manage more people if they themselves are limited? How can they monitor social distancing and wearing of face masks?)” he added.
Tiangco also expressed fears over a possible spike of COVID-19 cases in the coming days since, as of press time, the city has still a backlog of 900 tests awaiting results due to delays in process.
“Ang pinapaliwanag namin is dahil may backlog sa testing, at wala namang isolation facility ang gobyerno para doon sa mga awaiting their test results, nakakalat sila [mga patients] (We still have a backlog in testing. And the government does not even have isolation facilities for those awaiting their results. COVID-19 patients are now everywhere),” he said.