MANILA - Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Thursday warned against placing Metro Manila under a lockdown, saying isolating the capital region is an "overreaction" that would "only result in panic and hoarding of goods."
President Rodrigo Duterte has announced the suspension of land, air and sea travel to and from the National Capital Region from March 15 to April 14, 2020 to contain the spread of the COVID-19 to other parts of the country.
"NCR is the political and economic capital of the Philippines. The economy will grind to a halt as the flow of goods and people from the provinces to NCR, and vice versa, will be affected," Sotto said in a statement.
"Preventing travel to and from Metro Manila with only 52 cases as this point is a textbook case of overreaction. This drastic measure will only result in panic and hoarding of goods," he said.
Panic buying may "result in inflation," the Senate President said.
"The poor and the vulnerable sectors will be heavily-disadvantaged under this scenario, as they don’t have the resources to cope with any shortage of food and other necessities," he said.
Sotto also flagged the decision to suspend work in agencies under the executive branch, but noted that he was not opposing the legislative's co-equal branch.
"I did not use the word oppose. I am voicing my opinion that containment is better than a lockdown," he said.
"The solution lies in more testing of the population and strict containment of heavily-affected areas... The time is not ripe for placing entire communities, cities and provinces under lockdown. Lockdown should be the last resort," he said.