Senator Imee Marcos on Sunday urged the government to finally open up public spaces, shorten curfews and extend business hours amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Marcos said the government should give back the public spaces to the people, saying the lockdowns were not the answer to control the spread of the coronavirus.
The community quarantine, she pointed out, only rendered most Filipino “cash-poor, space-poor, and time-poor.”
The senator pointed out the lockdowns only kept people in highly populated cities too cramped in their homes to observe proper distancing. It also limited their mobility to find work.
“In the crowded shanties of Metro Manila, the overcrowded migrant barangays of Cebu, physical distancing is well-nigh impossible,” said Marcos, chair of the Senate Committee on Economic Affairs.
“Lockdowns are only the final solution for highly infected, target sitios or barangays where protocols are still consistently ignored,” she pointed out.
She said opening up public spaces and closing off side roads to vehicular traffic after office hours would allow people to do their daily chores.
It would also promote both physical and mental health, as long as the wearing of face masks and social distancing continue.
“What if we open up our streets to people instead of cars after workday hours?” Marcos proposed.
“Let’s allow our poor, cramped families these precious spaces to breathe, play, cook, wash, and catch some sunlight. Maybe it’s now time to return our parks, stadiums, auditoriums and side roads to the public at last!” she said.
She also said shortening curfews and extending business hours will also ease crowding in offices, markets and groceries, and limited public transport.
“We need to invent time: Keep everything open as long as we can to prevent crowding, rush hours, and panic. Let’s plan for longer market hours, allow offices to keep flexible time, make government 24/7 to avoid those long distribution lines for ‘ayuda’,” Marcos explained.
“True, it may raise the electric bills, but the cost of lights, security and overtime would still be far less than the cost of infection and joblessness. We already have a pandemic, let’s not encourage pandemonium,” she added.
Marcos said it may take a while before the Philippines can procure vaccines for the whole population.
“We have seven months to go before an acceptable vaccine may be produced, and several more months before it is widely available world-wide and in the Philippines, ” she said.
“In the long meanwhile, let us learn to live with the virus, and start by giving public spaces back to the people,” the senator suggested.