BY VANNE TERRAZOLA
The Senate has suspended its plenary sessions from August 4 to 19 in recognition of the call of health workers for a “timeout” from the surge of COVID-19 cases in the country.
Members of the Upper Chamber unanimously approved on Monday night Senate President Vicente Sotto III’s proposal to implement a two-week enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) within their premises to minimize movement and transmission of the novel coronavirus as appealed by medical societies last weekend.
“The call is like a breather or a timeout that our already overwhelmed medical system and overburdened frontliners are requesting,” Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri said in moving for the implementation of the ECQ.
Minority Leader Franklin Drilon also expressed his support for the Senate ECQ.
“Indeed, he medical community has appealed for a return to a stricter community quarantine because they sense that we are losing the battle against COVID 19. I join their call – not for the people to take to the streets but for the people to be off the streets for the next fifteen days,” Drilon said.
“As explained by the physicians, we need a timeout so that sectors concerned can regroup on how to give us a fighting chance against our unseen enemy. With the consistent rise in infections, healthcare workers are burned out, burdened both physically and mentally, with many of them falling ill. Our health system is overwhelmed; even non-COVID patients have been impacted and are not getting the care they deserve,” he added.
Drilon maintained that any quarantine is not the solution to the pandemic but “merely an opportunity to recalibrate our strategy into one which is health-led and science-based, while keeping our health system from breaking down in the meantime.”
While plenary sessions are suspended, senators may still hold committee hearings online. Sotto may also declare a resumption of sessions earlier than August 19 “when necessary to tackle and approve important and pressing legislative matters”. (Vanne Terrazola)