The entire country is now under a state calamity, which means prices of all products are already frozen, and the national and local government units can use available resources to prevent the spread of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) while cushioning its economic impact down to the vulnerable sectors.
President Duterte issued Proclamation No. 929, which “will, among others, afford the National Government, as well as LGUs, ample latitude to utilize appropriate funds, including the Quick Response Fund, in their disaster preparedness and response efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19 and to continue to provide basic services to the affected population.”
The state of calamity is effective for six months, unless changed by the President.
Memorandum Circular No. 77, meanwhile, directs the Department of Health, Department of Agriculture, and the Department of Trade and Industry to continuously monitor the prices of basic commodities and enact price control measures as provided by law.
It said: “The ongoing global concern on the spread of the COVID-19 has increased the demand for essential emergency drugs and medical supplies, and basic food commodities, thereby making these products susceptible to acts of illegal price manipulation.”
Duterte has already placed the entire Luzon under enhanced community quarantine, to further limit the movement of people, and consequently possible carriers of the coronavirus.
At least P27.1 billion has been readied for various programs to contain the spread of the disease and support the public and businesses via various interventions.
“As directed by President Duterte, the government will provide targeted and direct programs to guarantee that benefits will go to our workers and other affected sectors. We have enough but limited resources, so our job is to make sure that we have sufficient funds for programs mitigating the adverse effects of COVID-19 on our economy,” Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said.
Agriculture Secretary William Dar said they are now closely coordinating with the Philippine National Police, Department of Interior and Local Government and LGUs for proper implementation of the food resiliency protocols – including the identification of food lanes and the implementation of quarantine measures for the movement of food and other agricultural commodities.
The DA chief said that only trucks and suppliers with accreditation from the agriculture department could use the proposed special lanes. “All vehicles carrying essential food commodities, agri-fishery products and inputs bearing government-issued stickers must be allowed passage at quarantine checkpoints through these food lanes.”
Meanwhile, the Department of Health announced its emergency hotlines for all concerns regarding COVID-19: 02-894-COVID (02-894-26843) and 1555.