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Senators rally behind health workers, urge IATF to study placing NCR under ECQ anew

Several senators on Saturday appealed to the government to consider a call from medical workers to place Metro Manila again under the much stricter enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), saying their plea was "valid."

In their appeal, the medical professionals and groups asked for a two-week return to an ECQ status to give them time to recuperate from exhaustion while allowing the government to recalibrate its strategies against the global pandemic, asthe cases of COVID-19 in the country continue to increase.

"It is a valid request that Malacañang should seriously consider," Sen. Panfilo Lacson told reporters on Saturday.

The lawmaker suggested that "some adjustments" be made in the distribution of government subsidy to the most basic necessities of those who need it the most.

"What is important is to prevent an obvious pattern of upsurge in the daily coronavirus infection. Putting human lives on top of all considerations is a no-brainer, given the choice," he added.

He said data management by this time - more than four months into the nationwide quarantines - should have already been in place and readily implementable.

His fellow Senators Sonny Angara, Richard Gordon, Nancy Binay, and Ronald "Bato" dela Rosa shared Lacson's views.

"It’s a very serious request which the government should take very seriously in plotting out the next steps. If the doctors and our medical system is overwhelmed then the whole system and government strategy will surely be affected," said Angara.

The legislator urged the Inter-Agency Task Force on COVID-19 to sit down with representatives of the health sector to address their concerns.

For his part, Gordon said in a radio interview: "Dapat pag-aralan natin [ang pagbalik sa ECQ] kasi ang health workers pagod na... Ang mga doktor natin, pagod. Dapat pag-aralan natin ang suggestion nila. Pati isolation punung-puno... Ang health workers, 14 days papasok, 14 days di papasok." 

"Talamak ang pasaway. Gusto natin makapagtrabaho. Dapat hinay-hinay. Yung mga sumusunod i-open natin. Ang pasaway, i-lockdown," he added.

Binay urged the government to look for a "middle ground" and a "win-win solution" to address the health workers' concerns.

"I appeal to Malacanang to stand behind our frontline health workers. Humihingi sila ng saklolo. Pakinggan nyo naman ang hinaing nila," she said.

Dela Rosa said returning to an ECQ might help slow down the increase in the number of COVID-19 cases.

"Puwede siguro [ibalik sa ECQ] kung kinakailangan, kasi nakita natin halos puno na ang mga ospital, nagrereklamo na. Nung ECQ, lumuwag konti at hindi gaanong mabilis ang pag-akyat ng numbers. Baka yan ang solusyon sa ngayon," he said.

Meanwhile, Senate President Vicente Sotto III's brief response was "I concur," when asked about the medical workers' plea to revert to an ECQ status.

Citing the non-stop admission of COVID-19 patients in hospitals, Philippine College of Physicians Vice President Dr. Maricar Limpin on Friday said appealed for a two-week ECQ as many hospital workers are already experiencing physical exhaustion and depression.

President Rodrigo Duterte retained the general community quarantine (GCQ) over Metro Manila until August 15.

A GCQ had also been declared over Bulacan, Batangas, Cavite, Laguna, Rizal, Cebu City, Lapu-Lapu City, Mandaue City, Minglanilla and Consolacion towns in Cebu province, and Zamboanga City, while the rest of the country is under a modified GCQ. -MDM, GMA News