Senator Francis Pangilinan on Wednesday called for additional paid medical leave benefits for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)- vulnerable employees as this would encourage self-quarantine among those suspected to be infected with the disease.
In an interview with Bombo Radyo Naga, Pangilinan said the legitimate self-quarantining employees is helping their workplace community and should not be penalized with pay cuts for doing so.
“Ang panawagan natin diyan sa mga employers ay bigyan ng dagdag benepisyo dito sa medical leave at huwag parusahan ang mga magse-self-quarantine para talagang mabawasan itong pagkalat [ng COVID-19],” Pangilinan said.
“Ang isang dahilan bakit ayaw mag-quarantine ay dahil walang sweldo o kaya menos sa sweldo. Eh mas makakabuti para sa bawat kumpanya na kahit siya ay binabayaran, doon na muna siya sa bahay, hindi ba? Kung hindi, mas malubha ang mangyayari sa mga kumpanya kung nagkahawa-hawa,” he added.
Of those who refuse to undergo self-quarantine, Pangilinan said they may be endangering their own health, as well the health of their family and co-workers.
“That is being negligent — if you will not be self-quarantined, if you have the symptoms — not only to your family, pati ‘yung mga ka-trabaho mo. At apektado ang buong tanggapan kapag ganyan ang magiging sitwasyon,” Pangilinan said.
When asked whether a lockdown for Metro Manila could prevent further spread of the COVID-19, Pangilinan suggested lockdown through social distancing.
“Ibig sabihin, wala na itong mga malalaking pagtitipon. Bawasan na ang mga events kahit na magalit ang tao, magpasensyahan na muna tayo para mabawasan ang pagkalat at mabawasan din ang mga maaaring mapinsala,” the senator said.
“Stay at home. Absolute essentials lang ang pagbabyahe. Ano ang absolutely essential? Pupunta ka para bumili ng pagkain, ganyan. Pero ‘yung magmo-mall ka na hindi naman kailangan, manood ng sine, eh bawas-bawasan na muna ‘yon,” he added.
“Wala na itong big gatherings. At even class suspensions tuloy-tuloy na para talagang lalong mababawasan itong pagkalat nung sakit,” Pangilinan said.
On January 27, soon after news broke on the possible pandemic, Pangilinan was the first to call on government to impose a travel ban to visitors from China. He asked government to suspend all visa issuances to visitors from Wuhan and other areas in China where the disease has started and already spread.
And at the February 4 Senate hearing on government response, he took to task Health Secretary Francisco Duque for seeming unprepared for the worst, and not knowing basic numbers involving the spread of the disease, including the number of flights from China and other affected areas.
He lamented government’s lack of leadership in informing the public on how to keep safe from the disease, and in actually keeping COVID-19 in check with basic monitoring (contact-tracing) and quick response. /Stacy Ang