September 14, 2021
Starting September 16, the National Capital Region will be placed under an “experimental lockdown scheme” according to Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año. Prior to this, the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) released new guidelines on “granular” lockdowns. Only two types of community quarantines will be enforced from now on—Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) and General Community Quarantine (GCQ). Under the GCQ are four (4) alert levels that identify respective restrictions for establishment and overall mobility.
However, these new types of community quarantines do not offer anything new and will be as ineffectual in containing the pandemic as before. The government is still refusing to spend on the most urgent health measures of widespread free mass testing, diligent contact-tracing, and making selective quarantines more convenient for at risk people. Last September 11, A record-high 26,303 cases were just reported on September 11 and COVID-19 cases will continue to soar if all the government can do is rename its lockdown measures.
“The implementation of either ECQ or GCQ by whatever name repeats the failure of the government’s pandemic response. It still focuses on closures and restrictions while confusing the people and merely giving the illusion of action,” said Liza Maza, spokesperson of the Council for People’s Development and Governance (CPDG). Maza also pointed out that the administration still refuses to talk about much-needed financial assistance or ayuda for the poorest families.
The public, civil society, and even many public officials are clamoring for increased funding for pandemic response including shifting to a more public health-centered approach. Yet even the conservative Bayanihan 3 is stalled in Congress while the 2022 national government budget is a business-as-usual budget with trillions of pesos still concentrated in the usual agencies such as the departments of public works and highways, transportation, local government, and defense.
“The government still chooses to ignore the people’s needs and interests and still focuses on its futile and counterproductive goals. Next year’s budget allocation shows its blatant negligence. The public and civil society must speak out even louder in calling for the government to respond better to the pandemic, instead of merely playing with words and terms. The collective voice of the people shall shape the outcomes of the next administration, and how public funds shall be used.” Maza ended. #