Press Release
March 17, 2020

PRRD calls for solidarity among Filipinos amid COVID-19 situation; echoes Bong Go's call to private sector for 'bayanihan'

President Rodrigo Duterte enjoined all Filipinos to cooperate in the government's fight against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) as he addressed the nation on Monday, March 16.

"Lahat po tayo ay sundalo sa digmaang ito," Duterte said in a televised speech after a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Disease (IATF-EID) at the Malacañan Palace. Also in attendance during the meeting was Senator Christopher Lawrence "Bong" Go, chair of the Senate Committee on Health.

"Our countrymen are our most potent weapons in this war against COVID-19," the President added.

The President has announced that he had placed the entire Luzon under an enhanced community quarantine and stringent social distancing measures shall be implemented. Parts of the guidelines state that "strict home quarantine shall be observed in all households; movement shall be limited to accessing basic necessities; provision for food and essential health services shall be regulated; and there will be heightened presence of uniformed personnel to enforce quarantine procedures."

Also in his statement, Duterte echoed the appeal of Senator Go for the private sector and businesses to help ease the burden borne by their workers and employees as a result of this health crisis.

The night before the President addressed the nation, Go already urged business leaders to help workers and small-time traders by recommending the following measures that the private sector may consider:

- Release of 13th Month Pay - Moratorium on rental fees for lessors and tenants
- One month reprieve on bills payment for basic utility providers
- Aid to small and medium scale enterprises, from big businesses
- Impose work from home arrangement/flexible work schedule
- Limit travel for workers

After the President ordered the enhanced community quarantine for the whole of Luzon in his speech, he then emphasized Go's appeal to the private sector.

"'Yun sanang malalaking enterprises dito, maybe you can consider paying the 13th month pay or just paying them maski kalahati sa sweldo nila as a way of showing your solidarity with the Filipino at this critical time," Duterte said.

The President also asked that renters and tenants be given some leeway in the payment of rent and for service providers to provide a one-month extension for the payment of bills.

"Gawan natin ng paraan na mabawasan ng gastusin ang ating mga kababayan," Duterte said.

"I urge our business leaders to find ways to help small businesses and ease the burden which is felt by the ordinary citizens," he added.

Assuring the public that there will be no hunger during the quarantine period, Duterte also guaranteed that there is enough supply of food in the country.

Aside from assurances from the Department of Agriculture that the country has enough food supply, the President also mentioned during the IATF-EID meeting that San Miguel Corporation President Ramon Ang relayed a message to him that the company will help ensure sufficient supply of food and basic necessities while the government addresses the COVID-19 situation.

President Duterte asked Senator Bong Go to read the message from Ang during the IATF-EID meeting and after the message was read, the President expressed his gratitude for the support given by Ang as well as other private companies and business leaders who have signified intent to help.

Senator Go, for his part, earlier appealed to the private sector, the industry players, business leaders, foundations and the like, to join hands and combine efforts in helping the Filipino people overcome the threats of the COVID-19 crisis. He emphasized that a whole-of-society approach is needed to contain the disease.

The Senator also thanked those who have already expressed willingness to bolster government efforts through various forms of donations.

"Meron ng mga nagpahayag ng kanilang intensyong tumulong sa ngayon, katulad ng mga alcoholic drinks manufacturers na may malakihang donasyon ng denatured alcohol para magamit ng ating mga ospital, mga kumpanya ng langis na magtatabi ng P1-2 kada litrong nabebenta at mga casino na magtatatag ng kani-kanilang mga foundations upang makalikom ng pondong itutulong sa ating mga kababayan," Go said.

"Taus puso po akong nagpapasalamat sa inyo. Hinihikayat ko din ang ibang merong malasakit sa kapwa na mag-ambag ng tulong para sa ating mga mamamayan," he added.

Encouraging optimism amid the ongoing public health situation, Go called for unity and bayanihan in fighting the spread of the virus.

"Marami na tayong napagdaanan na mga delubyo at trahedya subalit dahil sa ating pagkakaisa, pagdadamayan at pagmamalasakit sa isa't isa, nalampasan natin ang mga ito," Go said.

"Ngayon, muli na namang sinusubok ng sakit na ito ang katatagan ng ating pagiging Pilipino. Magkaisa at magbayanihan po tayo," he ended.

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