House Minority backs ECQ extension

THE House Minority group expressed support for President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision to extend the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) in Luzon to April 30.

Minority Leader Bienvenido Abante said if the lockdown extension can contain the Covid-19 outbreak in the country then it is necessary to do it.

"Given that we have yet to conduct mass testing to fully determine the extent of the infections in our communities, keeping everyone home is the safest route for all at this point," Abante said.

Upon the recommendation of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, President Duterte extended the ECQ until April 30.

According to Abante, the extension "makes it imperative for the government to make sure that financial assistance is immediately extended to those who need it."

The Manila solon lamented that residents in many areas in Metro Manila alone had yet to receive their Emergency Subsidy Program (ESP) funds from the DSWD.

"Alam ko challenge ito logistically para sa ating mga LGU at sa DSWD, pero kailangan nilang tutukan ito dahil maraming hindi nakakapagtrabaho dahil sa ECQ," Abante said.

The House leader also proposed that the government put together a stimulus package for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to allow them to continue paying the salaries of workers who could not report for work.

"Giving a 30-day grace period for commercial rents of MSMEs within the period of the ECQ is a step in the right direction but it may not be enough," the solon pointed out.

"However, that only serves to delay their expenses. The question is where do these MSMEs get funds if they are not able to operate and generate profits during this ECQ?"

Abante said government should help businesses stay afloat to avoid possible layoffs and retrenchment by businesses hit hard by the ECQ.