Presidential spokesman Harry Roque on Tuesday, October 19, reminded doctors that strict lockdowns are not the solution to the pandemic since many Filipinos are going hungry and losing their jobs after more than a year of back-and-forth restrictions due to COVID-19.
The Palace official argued that Filipinos already know how to “live” with coronavirus, and that is through wearing a mask, washing the handa, social distancing, and vaccination.
“Pero ang importante po, ikonsidera natin na sa larangan ng public health, kabahagi po iyong pagkakaroon ng hanapbuhay para maiwasan ang pagkagutom – iyan po ang kinukonsidera ng ating IATF at ng ating Presidente (But what’s important is for us to consider in the field of public health, livelihood is part of that to prevent hunger—that’s what the IATF and the President are considering),” Roque said.
“Hindi lang iyong pagbaba ng kaso ng COVID kung hindi iyong pagbaba rin ng mga numero na nagugutom dahil sa lockdown (It’s not only the decrease in COVID cases but also the decrease in hunger prevalence because of the lockdown),” he added.
Dr. Maricar Limpin, head of the Philippine College of Physicians (PCP), expressed worry on the government’s decision to ease Metro Manila down to Alert Level 3, a less restrictive quarantine classification, because of the lack of target percentage as basis to lower the restrictions.
Her group also said that the government’s data is not reflective of the situation on the ground as health workers struggle with the number of COVID-19 cases admitted in health facilities.
Her comments came after Metro Manila eased into Alert Level 3 on Saturday, October 16. The alert level means more establishments can be opened with restaurants increasing its dine-in capacity to 30 percent indoors and 50 percent outdoors.
All ages—minors to senior citizens—are also allowed to go out subject to local government unit (LGU) restrictions.
“Uulitin ko po ha, hindi tayo nakikipag-away sa mga doktor (I will repeat, we are not fighting with the doctors),” Roque said, maintaining that the government’s decisions is “data-driven” and not based on “generalizations.”
It can be remembered that Roque was caught in video berating Limpin during a teleconference call last month.
The spokesman came under fire for raising his voice at Limpin who then appealed to the government not to ease restrictions amid the COVID-19 surge in the capital region.
Roque said that based on data, the country’s hospital utilization rate is already under “moderate risk.”
In Metro Manila, he said the ICU bed utilization rate is at 59 percent, isolation beds at 38 percent, ward beds at 43 percent, and ventilators at 45 percent.
“Ito ay bukod po sa lahat ng indications na bumaba ang ating positivity rate, bumaba iyong ating daily average attack rate at saka iyong two-week average attack rate (These are aside from all indications that the positivity rate, daily average attack rate, and two-week average attack rate have all decreased),” Roque added.
On Tuesday, the Department of Health (DOH) reported 4,496 new cases, the lowest since July 28.