Senators favor slow shift to MGCQ

The Philippine government must go slowly in shifting General Community Quarantine (GCG) to the slightly strict Modified General Community Quarantine (MGCQ) by early March, Senator Edgardo ‘’Sonny’’ M. Angara said on Saturday, February 20.


‘’Sa akin okay na mag move tayo sa MGCQ pero dahan dahan (To me, let us move on to MGCW but slowly),’’ Angara, chairman of the Senate finance committee, said during a DWIZ radio interview.

‘’Kung pwede magdry run tayo sa transportasyon, sa mga bus sa mga tren, subukan muna natin at sa face to face classes (If possible, there should be dry run on transportation, on buses, on trains and face-to-face classes),’’ he added.

Senators Vicente “Tito” Sotto III and Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III on Saturday admitted being worried about the government’s plan to place the Philippines under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ), reminding the public to still be careful and prevent the transmission of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

“Kung magsusuper ingat naman tayong lahat ay pwede pero ‘di ako masyadong ano. Medyo hindi ako — ako ang tingin ko, opinyon ko lang naman ito — ang tingin ko kapag siguro mga at least naka-five percent na tayo ng mga binabakunahan (If we will all be extremely careful we can ease the quarantine, but I’m not too comfortable with it. I quite don’t agree with it — I think, and this is just my opinion — maybe we can ease the quarantine protocols when we are already vaccinating at least five percent of the population),” the Senate President said in an interview over radio DWIZ on February 20.

Some senators were supportive of placing the entire country under MGCQ, citing the need to address the recession caused by the COVID-19 outbreak.

“Sabi ko dapat face-to-face na rin ang session ng Congress, ng Senado, eh ayaw agad ng ibang mga kasama ko eh. Tapos payag sila MGCQ ang taumbayan? Huwag ganun, ‘di ba (I said sessions in Congress, of the Senate, should then be face-to-face, but my colleagues still do not want it. But then they agree that the entire country should be under MGCQ? They should be like that, right),” Sotto said.

Pimentel, meanwhile, acknowledged that authorities, in recommending the shift to MGCQ, may have seen that the country’s health system can accommodate and respond to the potential increase in coronavirus infections.

But he said the public should not be complacent and must continue observing minimum health protocols to avoid getting the disease. Pimentel was a COVID-19 survivor.

“Kahit na March ay MGCQ, tuloy pa rin ang mask at shield…Okay na ‘yan plus physical distancing, kung ‘di ganon kahalaga ang lakad huwag na lang ituloy (Even if the MGCQ starts in March, we should still wear face masks and face shields. It’s okay plus physical distancing, and if the travel isn’t necessary, they should not push through with it),” he said in a separate DWIZ interview.

Senator Christopher “Bong” Go said the situation in the country remains perilous especially since the government has yet to properly roll out its COVID-19 vaccination program.

“Personally, vaccines first. Vaccines first. Vaccine rollout first before you open…the economy. Vaccine rollout first before we ease open our economy),” Go said in an interview in Villanueva, Misamis Oriental.

Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri, who last year tested positive for COVID-19 twice, said it would be best for the government to err on the side of caution, especially since there are new variants emerging in the metropolis.

“I’m siding with the mayors who prefer not to ease the restrictions at the moment because these new COVID-19 variants emerging are deadly…Let us be very careful. Metro Manila, and the Philippines as a whole has a serious density factor,” Zubiri pointed out in a Radio DZRH interview.

“COVID-19 is a traitor. I was infected twice, it’s scary to think you don’t have any idea where you can contract it,” Zubiri pointed out.

The Interagency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases had earlier recommended to put the entire country under MGCQ starting March 1, following the advice of economic managers and the decision of Metro Manila mayors to boost consumer spending.

President Duterte is expected to announce his decision on the recommendation before the end of February.