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Two-week Senate ECQ eyed amid frontliners’ plea, say sources

The Philippine Senate may be placed under a two-week enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) as a show of support for medical frontliners, as confirmed cases of the coronavirus disease in the country rose over 100,000.

According to Senate sources, President Vicente "Tito" Sotto III is now consulting his colleagues on the possibility of placing the Senate under stricter quarantine measures.

Should this be agreed upon by the majority of the senators, the Senate premises will be closed, and only a skeleton workforce from the Office of the Sergeant at Arms would be on duty.

This comes as frontliners have called on the government to put Matro Manila back under an enhanced community quarantine for two weeks, to give health workers some time to recuperate from exhaustion due to the non-stop admission of COVID-19 patients.

According to presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, Jr., President Rodrigo Duterte has already ordered the inter-agency task force to consider the plea. 

The proposal, however, may be met with opposition such as Senator Cynthia Villar who said Filipinos will just "have to learn to live with COVID-19."

"May time in our lives na ikaw talaga ang mapapagod. Iba-iba naman ang kalamidad. So itong kalamidad na ito ang mapapagod dito ang health frontliners natin. Iba iba yan, but I guess we need to work hard," she said in a radio interview.

She later said that she was referring to government leaders who need to work harder to curb the spread of the disease.

Senators support move

In a separate statement, Senate Majority Leader Miguel Zubiri, who previously tested positive for the deadly disease, expressed his support for the frontliners' call.

"With results like these today at over 5,000 new cases, I totally support the medical frontliners call for a time out for an ECQ of 15 days para lang mapigil ang napakabilis na pag kalat ng virus na ito," he said.

"Last time we were on ECQ we had an average of just 200 cases a day, today at GCQ its an average 3,000 to 4,000 cases a day," he added.

In a separate message, Senator Panfilo Lacson said there seems to be agreement among the majority of senators. "[W]e might formalize the decision during our 2 p.m. caucus and 3 p.m. session (most probably virtual) tomorrow," he said.

Senators Ralph Recto and Francis Pangilinan also conveyed that they were in favor of a two-week ECQ for the Senate.

On Sunday, the Philippines reported a record 5,032 new infections of COVID-19, bringing the total confirmed cases to 103,185. This includes 65,557 recoveries and 2,059 deaths. — Jon Viktor D. Cabuenas/BM, GMA News