By Azer Parrocha
MANILA (Philippines News Agency) – Amid criticisms over his decision to place Metro Manila and four nearby provinces under the strictest quarantine status anew, President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday said the Philippines is not the only country under a lockdown.
Speaking in a pre-recorded public address, Duterte said many countries including Ukraine, France, Germany, Poland, and Italy also had to reimpose lockdowns to curb the spread of Covid-19 and prevent the healthcare systems from collapsing.
“Ang gobyerno ba natin nagkulang? Ang gobyerno ba natin walang ginawa? Alam mo sa totoo lang ang naka-lockdown ngayon naka-lockdown ang the countries of Ukraine, France, Germany, Poland, Italy (Did the government have any lapses? Did the government do anything? The truth is, the countries of Ukraine, France, Germany, Poland, Italy are also under lockdowns),” he said.
The new Covid-19 strains, he said, were to blame for the spike in infections worldwide.
Duterte said he would be the last person in the country who wanted to inflict suffering on Filipinos by limiting their mobility.
“I would be the last person – ako ang pinakahuling tao dito sa Pilipinas na magpapahirap sa Pilipino (I would be the last person who would inflict suffering on Filipinos),” he said.
He said he wished he had powers to make Covid-19 go away so life would return to normal.
“If only I had the power – kung nandiyan lang sa akin ‘yong poder na like a magic wand na maalis kaagad itong problema natin, mawala, gagawin ko (like a magic wand to make this problem vanish, I’ll do it),” he added.
He admitted that he was grappling with the issue of Covid-19, stressing that it is a problem that continues to take up most of his time.
“I’m having a hard time. I’m grappling with the issue of Covid. It takes most of my time actually. More than any other papers, it’s the Covid that is taking my time or most of my time looking for ways and kung ano na ang nangyayari doon sa labas kung saan tayo makakuha (what happens outside),” he said.
Duterte has placed Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) until April 4 to mitigate the spread of Covid-19 in the country as daily infections have soared to over 10,000.
Santiago City in Isabela will be placed under modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) from April 1 to 30 while Quirino Province will be under MECQ from April 1 to April 15.
The entire Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR); Cagayan, Isabela, and Nueva Vizcaya in Region II; and Batangas will be placed under general community quarantine (GCQ) until April 30.
Tacloban City and Iligan City, Davao City, and Lanao del Sur will also be under GCQ for the whole month of April.
All other areas will be placed under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ), the most relaxed quarantine classification, for the month of April.
As of Monday, the country has recorded 731,894 confirmed Covid-19 cases, 13,186 of which are deaths, and 603,213 are recoveries. (PNA)