Many Pinoys in The Netherlands support hard lockdown vs COVID-19

Jofelle P. Tesorio, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 16 2020 05:09 PM

Many Pinoys in The Netherlands support hard lockdown vs COVID-19 1
The Dutch went on last-minute shopping on Dec. 14, a day before the hard lockdown. Jofelle Tesorio, ABS-CBN News

THE HAGUE – It is a bitter pill to swallow but many Filipinos in The Netherlands agree with the Dutch government to put the country in a stricter lockdown than before.
 
Starting December 15 until January 19, all non-essential stores (with exceptions of supermarkets, drugstores, pharmacies, butchers, bakers, markets, dry-cleaners and opticians) and public places like museums, theaters, zoos, gyms and saunas were ordered closed. Restaurants and cafes had been closed since end of October.
 
From Wednesday, December 16, schools at all levels will also close and will shift to online learning until the lockdown is lifted.
 
“Mahirap mang tanggapin, pero ito ay napapanahon at tama lamang. Mahirap dahil ito ang panahon ng pagdalaw sa ating mga pamilya dahil magpa-Pasko na. Pero ang pinaka-mainam na pasalubong sa Pasko ay ang kasiguraduhang hindi magkakasakit ang ating mga mahal sa buhay at mga kaibigan,” said Marlon Toledo Lacsamana, a migrants rights’ advocate.
 
(It is a bitter pill to swallow but it’s timely and right. This might be hard because this is the Christmas season and the time to visit families and friends. But the best gift this Christmas is the assurance that no one among our families and friends get sick.)
 

Lacsamana said they had a colleague, a Filipino migrant leader in Austria, who succumbed to COVID-19 complications and died last December 11. Thus he understands the need for this hard lockdown, which came at the heels of rising COVID-19 cases that topped 9,000 over the weekend.
 
In early March, the Dutch government also ordered schools, restaurants and other public places closed but not ordinary shops.
 
HARDEST LOCKDOWN

In his public address, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said, “There are too many cases… An average of 60 people die per day... There are also more hospitalized cases during this second wave than during the first wave."

"There has been an insane amount of pressure on healthcare workers, and flu season is also coming up. Despite what people may think (including the demonstrators standing outside Rutte’s office), this is not an innocent flu. It’s a virus that can hit anyone very hard, including people who are not old,” he added.
 
For Filipino community leader Florisa Luteijn-Almodiel and senior citizen Nora van der Does, the stricter measures should have come earlier in the pandemic.
 
“The lockdown was bound to happen. The previous measures were too lenient and enforcement was wanting. But what was surprising was the closing down of schools without warning, and all of the sudden it is already the last day of school this year. My kid still has a school play and he will be Roman emperor Augustus and he was looking forward to it,” she said.
 
Luteijn-Almodiel added though this is more reassuring, knowing the children will be at home.
 
“While it is an extra workload for parents, at least we know they are safe. We can control the risks,” she said, hoping that people see that the measures will be strictly enforced and they will comply especially if there is a fine for violations.
 
Eighty-year old Van der Does said the skepticism of people about COVID does not really help.
 
“It should have been done long ago. I do not understand other people thinking it is okay because they’re not experiencing symptoms. Our medical facilities are overloaded and a lot still do not believe in being vaccinated,” she said.
 

NOT A SURPRISE 

For Grace Gonzales and Bituen Hidalgo, who both work in the finance sector, the new stricter measures did not surprise them.
 
“”For me, it’s even a welcome relief since I feel that you need drastic measures to mitigate this surge in COVID cases. I’m more sad for the workers in the retail shops and resto as I know that most of them are now going under. So I try to help by ordering food or buying online what’s necessary,” said Gonzales.
 
For Hidalgo, one’s “freedom to party” or flaunt rules must be dealt with.
 
“Kailangan naman talaga para magpirmi lang sa bahay ang mga tao kung maaari. Nagagalit iyong ibang tao kasi nadidismaya ang kanilang right to party. Hindi naman puwedeng ganun, kailangan nilang magtiis," Hidalgo said.

"Ang naaawa lang ako ay iyong mga nawalan ng trabaho at saka iyong nawalan ng buhay ang mga kamag-anak. Iyon ang nakakalungkot.”
 
(People should just stay home as much as possible. Some are frustrated because their right to party is being curtailed. It doesn’t work that way. There are sacrifices to be made. But I pity those who will lose their jobs and those who lost their loved ones.)
 
IMPACT ON VULNERABLE MIGRANTS 

The stricter measures also have a big impact on Filipino migrant workers who don’t get support from the government and whose livelihoods depend on the services sector.
 
“Ito po ay may malaking bigwas sa kabuhayan at kalagayan ng ating mga kababayan dito. Karamihan po sa mga industriya kung saan nagtatrabaho ang mga Pinoy ay nagsara na, gaya ng hotel, restaurant, cafes. Ang mga port, ang mga barko ay tumigil sa operasyon,” said Joanna Lerio of Migrante-Netherlands and The Hague.
 
(It is another blow to the livelihood of our fellow Filipinos here. Most of the industries where Filipinos work already closed, like hotels, restaurants, cafes and ports, and ships have stopped their operations.) 

Some Filipino au pairs have also stopped working due to non-renewal of contracts.
 
Lerio said most of these affected Filipino migrant workers cannot easily find employment elsewhere.

Her group is again calling for the Philippine embassy and the government to make sure the needs for food, shelter and health of many vulnerable Filipinos will be taken care of, especially in these cold winter months.

They also appeal to the Dutch and European Parliaments to give amnesty to regularize the status of undocumented workers which is being pushed by the April 28 Coalition, a worldwide group of migrants’ rights advocates.
 
For Amsterdam salon owner Jitty dela Cruz, it is another major blow to their business, which was already closed before.
 
“Business entrepreneurs have hit out at the gruesome second national lockdown…I am sure the potential emotional damage will be immense knowing it covers much of the holiday season," dela Cruz said on her Facebook account.

"Although the government maintains it has struck a balance between protecting the economy and saving lives, this intelligent lockdown has cost damage to confidence, entrepreneurship, and loss of jobs and social and welfare are immense. The situation has an impact on someone's mental health and for others, shattered dreams,” she added.
 
Dela Cruz and her partner Ronald Pronk have been looking forward to the busy December holiday to recoup their losses in the past months. But their hopes were cut short.

Despite this, she said, they remain hopeful for a better reopening next year.


 
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