"Now is not the time for personal interests."
With the continuous and alarming rise in COVID-19 cases, particularly in the National Capital Region and nearby provinces, collectively known as the NCR-plus, we are once again caught in a series of localized lockdowns and enhanced community quarantine. While Quezon Province is outside of the “travel bubble” ECQ areas, the impact of the surge of COVID-19 cases in the NCR-plus bubble spills over to the entire country.
We all know that enhanced community quarantine means stoppage of work, businesses, and limited operations of both essential and non-essential industries. Unlike last year, the government has now imposed an earlier curfew at 6:00 in the evening. With these renewed restrictions, we can very well imagine how this will further aggravate the economic status of the country and the livelihood of the people.
Capital Economics, a London-based think tank, has projected a slump in the country’s gross domestic product in the upcoming months. The 8.7-percent unemployment rate for February has been the third highest since April 2020 where it was a record high at 17.6 percent. These numbers paint a dismal picture, but the impact of the worsening economic situation is more depressing in the actual community settings. A higher inflation rate means higher prices of goods. Coupled with an increase in the unemployment rate, more families may plunge deeper into poverty.
We cannot neglect the negative impact of the ECQ. Pre-emptive measures were earlier taken amid the threat of another ECQ. We have imposed stricter health protocols and public health measures. Quezon Province is working on improving food security to ensure that the people will have food on their tables regardless of the level of quarantine that will be imposed in the country.
We strive to cope. We work hard to cushion the economic impact of the stricter quarantine. However, we maintain our call for support from the national government. The local government units are doing their best to provide the needs of the people. However, some barriers prevent us from reaching everyone who needs help. Hence, at this juncture, I fervently appeal that we set aside political colors and personal ambitions in rendering public service to the people. As governor of the Province of Quezon, it is my duty to ensure that the general welfare of the people are protected and taken care of. By virtue of this mandate, I request for a more coordinated and nonpartisan teamwork between the local government units and the national agencies. I ask the assistance of the Department of Social Welfare and Development in the fair distribution of relief goods, including the essential food packs to the public. I also ask the police to continuously extend the necessary assistance in ensuring that quarantine protocols are properly and justly implemented. Government agencies and the local government units need a good working relationship in order to effectively address the needs of the people.
Now is not the time for personal interests. Let me repeat, we are in a public health crisis. For the past weeks, we have seen its negative holistic effects. Many have been afflicted with the disease and are enduring the isolation. Businesses closed down. The unemployed have been lamenting over the uncertainties in getting money for food and other basic necessities. Others are forced to face the risks of getting COVID-19 and endure long hours of walking to work just to be able to provide for their families. The critically sick have been struggling to survive and find facilities that can provide urgent health care. Families have been mourning over the loss of their loved ones. We should all contribute to be part of the solution, not the problem. Let this be our moral compass.