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Thursday, July 25, 2024

Senate minority questions gov’t on travel ban from China

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The Senate Minority Bloc on Friday questioned the Duterte administration on the status of the travel ban to and from China.

In a statement, the Minority Bloc composed of Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon and Senators Leila de Lima, Risa Hontiveros, and Francis Pangilinan cited reports that flights from China continue.

They also said that Bacolod has allowed all vessels from China, Hong Kong, and Macau to dock at its seaports.

With the increasing cases of COVID infections, the opposition senators said they are willing to help work with the administration to enact emergency legislation needed so that government can respond more quickly to the crisis, as well as propose science-based and multi-sectoral, and people-centered and vulnerable-focused actions on  communication, necessisities, medical services, budget and other resources, among others.

“The challenge is to minimize the infection. We must do everything we can to prevent the situation where the growing number of COVID-19 patients overwhelms our entire healthcare workforce,” they said.

“The rate at which the COVID-19 cases multiply each day poses a very serious threat. If we fail to arrest the increase, our healthcare system, no matter how equipped it is, will face difficulty in dealing with COVID-19 cases.”

The minority also sought clarification on food supply particularly the entry and exit of trucks carrying food and other supplies to and from NCR ports, and wet markets, supermarkets, and other retail outlets.

“What happens to the scheduled arrival of semi-perishable and perishable goods estimated at billions of pesos during the lockdown period? Will these goods be diverted? Will these shipping entries be exempt from the lockdown?” they asked.

They also inquired into the number of persons monitored through contact tracing of those who have tested positive for COVID-19.

“If entry to and exit from NCR is restricted, what happens to the estimated four million non-Metro Manila residents from Laguna, Cavite, Rizal, Bulacan, and even Pampanga who work in Metro Manila?” they asked.

DILG Secretary Eduardo Año has made some exceptions in the media after the President’s announcement on the lockdown but the opposition senators said protocols for these should be made clear.

Since Intra-NCR travel and mass transit in  Metro Manila is locked down, they asked if residents can move freely within the metropolis.

“What are the protocols for MRT and LRT riders? For padyak, tricycle, Angkas/habal-habal, jeepney, van, and bus riders? Will the government deploy more trains? Ease permits and franchises for other modes of transport?”

They also asked on what will be done with the informal settlements.

“How do we address the issue of close contact among people in informal?”

The senators likewise aired their concerns on the 40,000 military and police troops who will be deployed to enforce the lockdown since they do not have hazard suits.

“How will they be protected from the virus? How will their deployment cut the transmission of the virus?”

What is NEDA’s plan to make the economy resilient and able to immediately bounce back from the economic shocks brought by the pandemic?” they also asked.

According to the minority senators, the government should issue more frequent timely and informative press conferences for updates, advisories, and reminders (on hygiene and healthy practices), utilizing traditional and social media, including private telcos and non-traditional media like electronic billboards.

It should also set up a 24-hour hotline that will answer health another questions.

They said business establishments should allow telecommuting, work-from-home, and other means that can help minimize the risk of spreading the virus.

It should also provide additional medical leaves and other support for self-quarantine of government and private employees. No penalty for COVID-vulnerable doing self-quarantine. “ Consider additional leaves as donation similar to during a disaster,” members of the bloc said.

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