Senate leadership eyes chamber's 2-week lockdown as PH virus cases surge

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 02 2020 08:51 PM

MANILA - The Senate leadership is eyeing a 2-week lockdown of the upper chamber after medical frontliners and health workers called for a “timeout,” a source said Sunday.

The proposal to place the Senate on lockdown is a “show of support and concern for frontliners” who have been urging the government to reimpose stricter quarantine measures as COVID-19 cases surge in the country, said a high-level Senate official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Should senators approve the proposed 14-day lockdown in the Senate, the chamber will have to “postpone” or “reset” scheduled hearings, including an investigation into the alleged irregularities in the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation, the source said.

While the building is on lockdown only a few members of the Senate’s Office of the Sergeant at Arms will be required to come physically to work, the source said.

Several senators have already expressed support for the call to place parts of the country under enhanced community quarantine to help ease the burden on health workers in hospitals.

“Kawawa na ang mga doktor at mga nurse sa mga ospital na punong puno na,” Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri said in a statement.

“I appeal to Malacañang to stand behind our frontline health workers. Humihingi na sila ng saklolo,” Sen. Nancy Binay said in a separate statement.

“Perhaps you can find some middle ground, and explore win-win solutions to address critical concerns,” she said.

The Supreme Court on Sunday said it will be closing all courts in the National Capital Region as well as other areas under enhanced community quarantine and modified enhanced community quarantine for two weeks as COVID-19 cases continue to rise.

President Rodrigo Duterte first placed Luzon- the Philippines’ most populated island - under lockdown in mid-March when the virus began spreading in the country.

After nearly 80 days, the government started easing community quarantine policies to save several businesses - including aviation, retail and construction - from declaring bankruptcy.

Despite having one of the world’s longest lockdowns, the Philippines breached the 100,000-mark with 103,185 COVID-19 cases as of August 2.

Of these patients, 2,059 died, while 65,557 recovered from the disease.