MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday told doctors and health workers that he himself wants to put the Philippines back into a longer lockdown to curb the spread of COVID-19, but the government has run out of funds to financially support Filipinos amid the pandemic.
Duterte earlier placed Metro Manila and nearby provinces on modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) from Aug. 4 to Aug. 18, heeding the call of health workers who asked government to revert to stricter quarantine measures to give medical frontliners a breather.
Doctors and health experts however have said a longer lockdown is still needed to address the COVID-19 crisis as infections continue to surge in the country.
"Alam mo, sa mga doktor, sabihin ko sa inyo. Hindi ko na sila (public) mapigilan, dahil po wala na akong pera na ibigay sa kanila. Kaya kailangan sila lumabas para magtrabaho. I-lockdown ko, ubos na 'yung pera na ibinigay ng Congress na bigyan kayo ng ayuda. 'Yung pera panggastos, wala na ako niyan," Duterte said.
"So I'm telling the doctors, as much as I want to give in to your demands, especially in the matter of lockdown -- I want it because I don't want the contamination to continue...it's a continuing thing."
Duterte said that when it comes "food for your family," he will allow the people to go out as government cannot aid them financially.
"Tatanggapin ko 'yan kasi di ko na kayo mapakain lahat eh. Noon may pangbigay ako. Kung meron ako pambigay, ibibigay ko sa inyo araw-araw para mabubuhay kayo, makakain. Problem is funds are already depleted," he said.
On Monday, the Philippines recorded a new record-high of 6,958 more COVID-19 cases in a single day, bringing the country's total tally to 136,638.
Health expert Dr. Tony Leachon, who left the national task force on pandemic response in June, earlier said if the government "really wants an MECQ, let's extend it to a month and build up health care capacity."
"We will flatten the curve," he told ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo, adding this would also be an opportunity to prepare the public for the arrival of a vaccine in December.