Some lawmakers in the House of Representatives on Monday, September 6, welcomed the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases’ decision to place Metro Manila under the general community quarantine (GCQ) as this would help the government learn how to deal with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic proactively.
Camarines Sur Representative Luis Raymund “LRay” Villafuerte said the downgrade is certainly welcome as this would help the government come up with a mechanism on how to deal with COVID19 since the coronavirus is not likely to go away soon enough, as the World Health Organization (WHO) itself has assessed.
“The best way for us to deal with the pandemic is through risk management and not risk avoidance,” Villafuerte said in a statement.
“A further opening of the economy is the only way to accelerate recovery from the pandemic and avoid long-term or permanent economic scarring. We will not be able to stimulate greater economic activity unless we are able to restore business and consumer confidence, especially because household consumption accounts for 70 percent of our economy,” he added.
However, he said the government needs to scale up testing and contact-tracing activities to help slow the spread of the more transmissible variants.
“This, even as we relax mobility curbs and continue to observe health and safety protocols such as the use of face masks, face shields and physical distancing,” Villafuerte said.
According to presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, the GCQ classification for Metro Manila will run from September 8 to 30. He also said the IATF will soon release guidelines on granular lockdowns.
Barangay Health Workers Party-list Rep. Angelica Natasha Co also said she favors the implementation of granular lockdowns but urges the IATF to factor in barangay population size, land area and density.
“I favor the implementation of granular lockdowns. I suggest to the IATF and its technical working groups and the mayors that they also consider the land area and population size of barangays where the granular lockdowns will be implemented,” Natasha-Co said.
“Counting and classifying barangays that are COVID high-risk and low-risk would not be enough because there are barangays with relatively huge populations and larger land areas. Some barangays also have very high population density,” added the solon.
She also urged the IATF and local government units (LGUs) to look at the COVID data links between areas particularly on the transport commute links between Biñan, Sta. Rosa, Calamba, and San Pedro, Laguna with southern National Capital Region (NCR) areas like Muntinlupa, Parañaque, Las Piñas and Pasay.
“Among these measures should be 100 percent vaccination of all transport workers, mobile vax and testing at transport terminals and passenger pickup points, free COVID testing, free surgical face masks for passengers, and free KN95 face masks for public utility vehicle (PUV) drivers,” she said.