President Rodrigo Duterte refused the suggestion of Albay 2nd district, Rep. Joey Salceda, to lock down the National Capital Region (NCR) after the government confirmed the first local transmission of COVID-19 in the country.
Salceda on Monday suggested a one-week lockdown of NCR to prevent the spread of the virus in other provinces.
“Everyone is a suspect now, thus, the need for isolation,” Salceda said.
Salceda insisted that the safety of the Filipino people is more important than the economic losses from closing down the NCR.
The lawmaker proposed the implementation of the following measures during the lockdown.
- suspension of classes,
- work stoppage,
- no bus trips,
- no domestic flights, and
- closure of South Luzon Expressway and North Luzon and Expressway and railways.
However, President Duterte said that the proposed lockdown is still premature, and he’s hoping that they’re not going to reach the point that they need to forcefully close NCR.
According to the President, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases are not enough to close down the capital region that could affect millions of Filipinos.
“We have not reached that kind of contamination, with this transmission, you want to close down the economy this time?” Duterte said.
“There will be a time I suppose, I hope not. I hope God will have mercy on the Filipino people. It’s too early at this time,” he added.
The President is also concern that the lockdown of NCR could badly affect the people living there because of the possible shortage of basic needs.
“Hindi ko sinasabi na hihintayin kong magkasakit lahat, but you have to balance, eh wala ng magpasok ng bigas, wala ng magpasok ng gasolina, tapos i-lockdown mo,” he said.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque also said that the suggestion of Salceda is premature.
“The protocol, in fact, includes that it might be premature to do it at this point. So we will have to wait until evidence of sustained community transmission is presented,” he explained.
As of writing, there are already 24 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the country, most of them are currently being treated in NCR.