Duterte admits gov’t is running out of funds as doctors seek longer lockdown

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 11) — President Rodrigo Duterte admitted during his speech on Monday the government is “out of money” as he too heeds the call of doctors to implement longer lockdown measures to effectively curb the spread of COVID-19 in the country.

The President lamented the depletion of government funds alloted for those direly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.

He said that working members of the family go out of their homes to work and provide for their needs despite the health risks posed by the coronavirus.

"Alam mo, sa mga doktor, sabihin ko sa inyo. Hindi ko na sila (public) mapigilan, dahil po wala na akong pera na ibigay sa kanila. Kaya kailangan sila lumabas para magtrabaho. I-lockdown ko, ubos na 'yung pera na ibinigay ng Congress na bigyan kayo ng ayuda. 'Yung pera panggastos, wala na ako niyan," the President said.

[Translation: To the doctors, I will tell you this. I cannot stop the public because I don’t have any money to give them. That’s why they need to go out of their house to work. If I will place again on lockdown, the funds given by Congress for assistance have been depleted. I don’t have money to spend anymore.]

The DSWD has released a total of P66 billion to poor families severely affected by the pandemic as part of the ongoing social amelioration program.

Duterte added he is supporting the medical community’s call for longer lockdown period in the country because he wants to prevent further contamination of individuals of COVID-19.

"So I'm telling the doctors, as much as I want to give in to your demands, especially in the matter of lockdown… I want it because I don't want the contamination to continue...it's a continuing thing," the President stressed.

The Philippine College of Physicians said last week they are not contented with the imposition of the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) in Metro Manila and the provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal effective August 4.

"We understand that imposing ECQ is a complex decision... health may just be one dimension especially for the economic expert, but remember that we need healthy people to reinvigorate our economy," said Dr. Maricar Limpin, the group's vice president.

Experts from the academe said the two-week MECQ until August 18 is not enough to significantly lower the COVID-19 infections in the country. While the government’s economic advisers warned of serious effects to the economy if the nation’s capital will remain under MECQ beyond the said date.

Last August 2, Duterte responded to the appeal of medical frontliners for a “timeout” due to the overwhelming state of the country’s health system amid rising COVID-19 infections.He ordered the return of Metro Manila and the four provinces back to stricter MECQ due to the surge of COVID-19 cases in these areas during the past weeks.

The country tallied on Monday around 6,958 new COVID-19 infections, a record-high in the number of cases recorded in a single day. This hikes the total count to 136,638, along with 66,186 active cases.

Sixty percent or 4,163 of the new patients are from Metro Manila, according to the case report. The DOH added that Laguna registered 400, Rizal 363, Cavite 312, and Bulacan 178.

Some 2,293 persons died and 68,159 patients recovered from the virus.