Public transport, 'ayuda' during ECQ? Palace says wait for rules on Monday

Prinz Magtulis - Philstar.com
Public transport, 'ayuda' during ECQ? Palace says wait for rules on Monday
The uncertainty that manifested during Saturday’s briefing would have vast impact on workers expecting to go back to work under old restrictions on Monday.
Release / PNP ASCOTF

MANILA, Philippines — Tighter lockdowns may bear the same name, but some rules have changed for the latest lockdown. With people and businesses awaiting guidelines to new restrictions, the government only had one consistent answer: wait for Monday.

Rumors of a return to enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) were confirmed early Saturday evening by Malacañang, but unlike last year when ECQ areas were entirely shut, some activities like construction and public transport are permitted. The problem is details on these will only be out on the first day of week-long ECQ on Monday, giving employees and firms no time to prepare.

“Let’s wait for DOTr (Department of Transportation) to release guidelines on Monday,” Roque said when asked about caps on public transport under ECQ.

The uncertainty that manifested during Saturday’s briefing would have vast impact on workers expecting to go back to work under old restrictions on Monday. Images of commuters unable to report to work because of lack of transport are still fresh, so do jeepney drivers begging for alms on the road after getting barred from fetching passengers.

Yet absent clear guidelines, Roque did little to boost their confidence a repeat of that will not happen anew on Monday even with assurances that some “limited” capacity of public transport will be allowed.

It was the same case for cash assistance typically offered to people unable to work during ECQ. While Roque said subsidies will be given, beneficiaries and when will cash reach their pockets remained unknown.

“Isang linggo lang naman ito (This is just one week),” he explained.

Having the rules laid out is also just one thing and  even then the poor are likely to suffer first before getting their hand on aid. it would be a long way before cash gets into the hands of the needy— from locating families who will get them, getting actual funds released from state coffers, to delivering them per household, all these can take weeks to months similar to last year’s social amelioration program.

The process is so tedious that some aid from the Bayanihan to Recover As One Act supposedly released to beneficiaries last year are still with agencies like the social welfare and education departments.

“Secretary Wendel Avisado is already finalizing the budget source (for assistance) today. We will discuss this on Monday,” Roque said.

“The government is ready to provide assistance but of course, giving assistance during lockdown is hard, but we will make sure that before April ends, the assistance will reach their intended beneficiaries,” he added.

What businesses say

For businesses, a return to ECQ during the Holy Week is a good strategy to offer relief to the capital region’s stretched health resources, while keeping the economic consequences limited because of the long Holy Week weekend. That said, many would have still wanted an earlier heads up from government.

“This is all so sudden, what kind of preparation will we make? It’s also weekend,” Sergio Ortiz-Luis, president of the Employers Confederation of the Philippines, an industry group, said in a phone call minutes before the restrictions were announced.

“We just hope this will just be for a week. There will be less disruptions because of the Holy Week but if this gets extended? Catastrophe,” he added.

George Barcelon, president emeritus of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, asked for specific plans on how to prevent a widespread contagion from happening again. "My concern is if infections do not go down in a week, what are the prescriptions of IATF? We can extend ECQ but that will be very bad for the economy." he said in a phone interview.

Paul Santos, chair of the Philippine Retailers Association, meanwhile lamented the persistent change of rules under quarantine regimes that are supposed to stay intact. “It takes a while to cascade it. If it’s a weekday, it is easier to cascade it to our members. If it’s a weekend, we will try the best,” he said by phone.

vuukle comment




  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

or sign in with