Philippine economy

LGUs to figure out how health workers will go to work during Luzon quarantine

Bea Cupin
LGUs to figure out how health workers will go to work during Luzon quarantine

Rappler.com

'We can also require public utilities to operate that is commensurate to those who will use,' says Interior Secretary Eduardo Año

MANILA, Philippines – With all forms of public transportation in Luzon suspended and an “enhanced community quarantine” in place, national government said on Monday, March 16, that it will be up to local government units (LGUs) to provide transportation for those who must continue working. (READ: Duterte places Luzon on ‘enhanced quarantine’ to battle coronavirus)

President Rodrigo Duterte, upon the recommendation of the Inter-Agency Task Force on the coronavirus, placed the entire island of Luzon under an “enhanced community quarantine” in response to the “sharp increase” of COVID-19 cases in the country.

The quarantine began when the clock struck midnight on Tuesday, March 17.

“Each LGUs will determine now the requirements. LGUs can provide transportation. We can also require public utilities to operate that is commensurate to those who will use,” said Interior Secretary Eduardo Año in a press conference that followed a prerecorded public address by Duterte.

“We don’t want to open all public transportation because that would encourage people to move,” added the former military general.

Cabinet officials were asked how health workers would be able to go to work with public transportation suspended.

According to a memorandum issued by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, private establishments allowed to remain open during the quarantine period include those that provide “basic necessities.” The list includes workers in hospitals, clinics, pharmacies, public markets, supermarkets, groceries, and convenience stores, among others.

“Our situation here is it’s as if it’s a calamity…. That is how the operation lies now. That’s why we’re in a state of calamity,” explained Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles in a mix of English and Filipino.

The suspension of public transportation covers jeeps, public utility vehicles, the MRT and LRTs, buses, and services like Grab.

“Public transportation is suspended. This is where the LGUs come in. This is where our coordination with the LGUs to provide the means for transportation comes in,” he added.

Neither Año nor Nograles expounded on how the process would work.

On March 12, Duterte announced that Metro Manila would be placed under a “community quarantine” that was meant to heavily regulate the flow of people in and out of the capital region.

As of Monday, the Philippines has recorded 140 cases of the novel coronavirus, with 12 deaths. Thus far, only 2 patients have recovered. The government is monitoring over 2,000 people and have classified 214 people as patients under investigation. – Rappler.com

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Bea Cupin

Bea is a senior multimedia reporter who covers national politics. She's been a journalist since 2011 and has written about Congress, the national police, and the Liberal Party for Rappler.