President Rodrigo Roa Duterte conveyed a message of hope Monday, rallying the nation to pray for the country’s frontliners against COVID-19 and for the welfare of the entire Philippines.
“I solemnly urge everyone to pray to the Almighty God, who has the power to defeat every enemy, visible or invisible. Pray for all doctors and health professionals and workers, pray for your government, pray for the country,” the President said after announcing a Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine.
“Even as we maintain physical distance from each other, let us remain strongly united in spirit to fight this dreaded disease. And with our unity and the blessing of God, we shall overcome.”
The enhanced community quarantine is aimed at preventing the further spread of COVID-19, which has so far infected 140 people with 12 recorded deaths as of Monday morning.
Local chief executives as well as village chiefs were mandated to ensure the welfare of their respective constituents. Barangays captains were tasked by the President to work hand in hand with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to extend relief to the poor and the most vulnerable.
Under the enhanced community quarantine and stringent social distancing measures to be implemented from March 17 to April 12, classes and mass public transportation will be suspended, mass gatherings will not be allowed, and land, air and sea travel will be restricted.
The DSWD, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), in coordination with the Department of Finance (DOF), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) will formulate programs or measures for the amelioration of affected workers and residents.
The measures include a moratorium on lease rentals, advancing pro-rated 13th month pay, reprieve in utility bills, and assistance to micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).
The President expressed his elation over the assurances of big food producers that there will be ample food supply as the country strives on containing the spread of the virus.
He appealed for volunteerism, calling on the country’s top conglomerates to extend assistance especially by aiding their workers cope with the present emergency.
As the government enforces stricter community quarantine for Luzon, the President asked for public cooperation.
“Kami naman, ako sa itaas ayaw ko. I hate it. Ayaw ko makipag-ano sa kapwa ko tao but the problem is there is a crisis, so you have to obey,” he said about individuals who may not follow the guidelines and resist authorities.
“Remember, this is an emergency. And during an emergency, tumabi kayong lahat and give it to the people who are responsible for protecting the country, alleviating the suffering and enforcing public order.”