Gov't tackles health workers' concerns

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National government officials met on Saturday evening to discuss the call of the medical community to return to stricter quarantine measures amid the surge in COVID-19 cases, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said. (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 1) — National government officials met on Saturday evening to discuss the call of the medical community to return to stricter quarantine measures amid the surge in COVID-19 cases, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said.

Roque said Cabinet secretaries, National Task Force officials, Senate health committee chair Bong Go and One Hospital Incident Command Chief Leopoldo Vega convened to take up the matter and will submit recommendations to the President.

The spokesman also added that the officials already spoke with organizations such as the Philippine Medical Association, the Philippine Nurses Association and the Philippine Association of Medical Technologists before their meeting.

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier ordered the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases to hear out the concerns of healthcare workers who are calling for a two-week-long enhanced community quarantine.

'We need to listen'

Vice President Leni Robredo emphasized the need to answer the health workers' "distress call."

"We need to listen, so that we can start rising from this crisis," she said in a statement.

Senators Ping Lacson, Sonny Angara and Nancy Binay also expressed support to the medical frontliners.

"Putting human lives on top of all considerations is a no-brainer, given the choice," said Lacson.

On the economy

However, it may not be as easy as it sounds, according to an expert.

Jonathan Ravelas, Chief Market Strategist of BDO Unibank, said the country, most especially Metro Manila, cannot go back to ECQ given the possible repercussions on the economy.

"Naiintindihan natin na talagang hirap na 'yung mga frontliner, pagod na sila, pero wala tayong kakayahan para bumalik tayo sa ECQ," Ravelas told CNN Philippines' Newsroom Weekend.

[Translation: We understand that our frontliners are tired and having a hard time but we cannot afford to go back to ECQ]

However, Ravelas agreed that non-essential businesses should remain closed to control the rise in cases. He said this in response to the Trade Department giving the go signal to reopen gyms and internet cafes to help restart the economy.

Senator Cynthia Villar argued that reverting to stricter measures would be unnecessary if healthcare workers would do better in their jobs.

"Hindi na siguro, pagbutihin nila trabaho nila," said Villar, adding that people would also die of hunger if the government closes the economy again.

[Translation: I don't think it is needed, they should do better in their job.]