Philippine gov’t justifies ‘draconian measures’, says PH ahead of United States, Italy, Spain in COVID-19 response

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Interior Secretary Eduardo Año on Wednesday justified the implementation of “draconian measures’ and stressed that the Philippines has led some rich countries in terms of measures to stem the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Año has justified the said “draconian measures” implemented by the government which imposed an enhanced community quarantine in Luzon that included prohibition of mass gatherings, closure of schools and most businesses and suspension of public transportation services.

“Let me remind everyone that we are always one step ahead of others like Spain, Italy, even [the] US,” Año said during a press briefing in Malacañang.

“If we do not implement draconian measures like these we would be ending like at least half of Italy’s condition now,” Año said.

A former military man in the past, as a soldier, Año was the Commanding General of the Philippine Army and the Chief of Staff  of the Armed Forces of the Philippines  before being appointed by President Rodrigo Duterte as the Secretary of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).

Año reiterated the warning of health experts that the number of COVID-19 cases in the Philippines could reach 75,000 within three months if necessary interventions would not be implemented.

“Draconian measures ang kailangan natin para mag-flatten ang curve and ma-contain natin, if not eliminate, the spread of the virus,” he said.

Italy has become the center of COVID-19 pandemic in Europe with thousands of deaths. Spain and the United States have also recorded thousands of infections.

The pandemic, which originated in Hubei, China, has put the Philippines under a state of calamity and the entire Luzon in lockdown until April 13.

The lockdown suspended public transport and work in both public and private sectors, except for those engaged in frontline and basic services, leaving daily wage earners out of jobs for the month.

More than 60,000 Italians have died from the virus since it claimed its first victim in the country a month ago.

Italy’s daily deaths are still higher than those officially recorded in China at the peak of its crisis in Wuhan’s central Hubei province.

Currently, infections in the Philippines are at 636, with 38 dead and 26 recoveries.

Duterte signed early Wednesday the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, which grants his administration more powers to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Under the law, the government will allocate P275 billion to help local government units provide aid to poor families amid the enhanced community quarantine in Luzon and lockdown in cities and provinces in other parts of the country.

The lockdown suspended public transport and prompted local government units to enforce curfews, limiting hours when people may go out to buy food, medicine and other basic necessities./Stacy Ang

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