Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte intensified the government’s efforts to contain the coronavirus outbreak by placing the entire Luzon island under “enhanced community quarantine” effective March 16.
This, according to a memorandum, means strict home quarantine for all households will be implemented, transportation will be suspended, provision for food and essential health services will be regulated, and the presence of uniformed personnel to enforce quarantine measures will be heightened.
But the new guidelines stirred public concerns as this will greatly affect minimum wage workers, because no work basically means no pay. The quarantine also limits the public’s access to basic necessities by allowing only one family member to go out of the household and buy supplies good for at least one week.
Muntinlupa Representative Ruffy Biazon shared his predicament on social media noting that many Filipinos, especially low-income people, will be disproportionately hurt by the new rules due to financial hurdles.
“Reality check: I have many constituents who can’t even afford to buy one-fourth bottle of ‘toyo’ (soy sauce). What more a week’s supply,” he tweeted.
Media reports claim that slum dwellers are more likely to be exposed to the coronavirus infection as they cannot practice social distancing and their surroundings lack sanitation.
On Tuesday, the Department of Labor and Employment urged businesses to pay their employees during the month-long quarantine.
This came after President Duterte appealed to big private companies to release 13th month pays in advance to their displaced workers.
Some business tycoons in the country were quick to heed to the government’s call with Manuel V. Pangilinan of the MVP Group of Companies confirming that they will “maintain the salaries and benefits of their employees throughout the enhanced quarantine period.”
The SM and Ayala Groups have separately expressed their support by pledging financial aids and ensuring uninterrupted services to the public amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Meanwhile, the President instructed the social welfare, trade, and budget departments to implement measures that would alleviate the burden of the enhanced community quarantine on all affected businesses and individuals.
“These measures may include, but shall not be limited to, moratorium on lease rentals, advancing a pro-rated thirteenth-month pay, reprieve in utility bills, and assistance to micro-, small- and medium-scale enterprises,” the memorandum states.