By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
Senate President Vicente Sotto III said the National Capital Region (NCR) should be reverted to enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) due to the people’s “hard-headedness”.
Sotto backtracked on Monday night and said the government’s health protocols were not to be blamed for the increase in COVID-19 cases in the country.
“While watching the news tonight (Monday), I take back what I said about [government] health protocols. Ang tigas ng ulo natin (We are so hard-headed)! Dapat ECQ na ulit (We should be placed under ECQ again),” Sotto said in Viber message to reporters.
“Kaya pala ang bilis ng pagtaas ng COVID sa atin (That was why COVID-19 infections increase rapidly in our country). Not because there are more mass testings now but because we are so hard headed. Nasa kalsada, nag-iinuman, nagpaparty, labas ng labas, ayaw mag mask sa ilong — iba talaga tayo. (People are out in streets, partying, going out, do not wear masks — we are really unique)!” he lamented.
Sotto issued the statement following the arrest of 121 individuals in a bar in Makati City on Sunday night, amid the general community quarantine (GCQ) being enforced in Metro Manila to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease.
The Makati police said arrested persons crowded the bar and violated physical distancing.
The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) issued last week Resolution No. 48 allowing restaurants, cafes and bars to operate under the GCQ, but only at 30 percent capacity and until 9 p.m.
They were also told to observe health and other protocols set by the Department of Trade and Industry.
Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez, however, clarified later that only dining functions of the said establishments are covered by the resolution.
Senators earlier raised alarm over the World Health Organization (WHO) findings that the Philippines has the fastest surge of COVID-19 cases in the Western Pacific region in just two weeks.
This, despite the stringent quarantine rules imposed all over the country, which was said to be one of longest lockdowns in the world.
Sotto had said that “something is very wrong” with the government’s programs on COVID-19 response. He later cited the delays in the health department’s contact tracing efforts and lack of “aggressive” research on medications.
The GCQ imposed in Metro Manila and several other provinces in the country is set to lapse today, June 30. President Duterte is set to announce the new quarantine policies for these areas before the day ends.