`Total lockdown’ in Luzon — Panelo

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    PRESIDENTIAL spokesman Salvador Panelo said Thursday night that President Duterte ordered a “total lockdown” of Luzon to ensure strict implementation of and compliance with government’s directives to contain the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

    Panelo, concurrent presidential legal counsel, made the statement in a TV interview as he warned some local government units against disregarding guidelines of the national government in the guise of promoting the welfare of their constituents.

    Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, in explaining the total lockdown decision of the President, said the President “just wanted to call a spade a spade.”

    He said the total lockdown covers the entire Luzon.

    Panelo said those that would not follow will face administrative charges and criminal charges.

    “Klaro ang sinabi ni Presidente… sundin ninyo kung ano ang guidelines ng national government. Hindi pwede didiskarte kayo ng kanya-kanya. Otherwise, sa halip na maipatupad natin, lalong hindi. Kasi kailangan iyung ating pagpapatupad ng ating lockdown. Ayaw na niya ng tawag na enhancement. Lockdown, this is a total lockdown. Kailangan sundin natin iyun kasi dito nakasalalay iyung ating survival (What the President said is clear… follow the guidelines of the national government. You cannot strategize individually. Otherwise, we will not be able to implement it. We need to implement the lockdown. He [Duterte] no longer wants it  called enhancement. Lockdown, this is a total lockdown. We have to follow it because our survival depends on it,” he in an interview with ABS-CBN News Channel.

    Panelo said the President made the decision during a meeting Thursday of the inter-agency task force on COVID-19 held at Malago Clubhouse at the PSG Park.

    He said Duterte had prepared a public address to further explain the recent developments to the Filipinos.

    The President on March 16 placed Luzon under an enhanced community quarantine, which includes strict home quarantine for all, suspension of public and mass transportation, suspension of work in government and private sector save for a few exemptions, and heightened presence of uniformed personnel to enforce quarantine procedures. Days before that, Duterte placed Metro Manila under a community quarantine.

    The President, in both instances, said that the quarantine should not be called a lockdown as it has a negative connotation, like the involvement of arms and violence.

    Panelo said the President is also calling for a special session to expedite the passage of over P1 billion supplemental budget that would be used to address the COVID-19 crisis.

    Sen. Christopher Go said the special session would be held either Saturday or Monday.

    “The priority is to ensure that additional funds can be allocated for immediate healthcare needs and for much-needed financial and food assistance to Filipinos, particularly the vulnerable sectors, daily wage earners and informal economy workers affected by the strict quarantine measures being imposed.  Both houses of Congress have expressed their commitment to find ways to respond to the needs of the people, especially at this time when decisive government action is imperative,” Go said.

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