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Bishop appeals for food aid before Manila lockdown

Church fears Filipino poor will suffer most when stricter measures to curb Covid-19 are implemented

Bishop appeals for food aid before Manila lockdown

A police officer inspects cars at a quarantine checkpoint in Philippine capital Manila on Aug. 1. (Photo: AFP) 

The head of the Philippines’ bishops’ conference has appealed to Catholics to give food to the poor so that they do not go hungry during a near-total lockdown that is due to start in Manila later this week.

Bishop Pablo Virgilio David of Kalookan issued the appeal on Aug. 1, ahead of the lockdown that will last from Aug. 6-20.

President Rodrigo Duterte ordered that an enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), the term given to the strictest lockdown measures to curb the fast-spreading Delta variant of the coronavirus, be imposed on July 31.

Duterte’s spokesman said ECQ rules prohibit the operation of non-essential businesses or industries.

“Only hospitals, supermarkets and banks can remain open. The rest must either close or maintain a skeleton workforce,” Harry Roque said on July 31.

The Church fears the lockdown will bring greater suffering to people as businesses retrench employees.

Lockdowns for the poor mean hunger, especially for those who are daily wage earners, those who live a hand-to-mouth existence

Bishop David thought giving food now would cushion the lockdown’s effect as many people would suffer due to unemployment.

“Lockdowns for the poor mean hunger, especially for those who are daily wage earners, those who live a hand-to-mouth existence,” Bishop David said.

“I also foresee a lot of people being arrested for violating quarantine regulations.”

Manila churchgoers, however, feared fewer people would donate food because the economic situation had worsened from last year.

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Others said they would donate but not as much as last year when strict social restrictions were also in place.

“More people are now getting hungrier and life has become more difficult. Even those who can give now feel the effects of the pandemic,” Manila businessman Gerald Toribio told UCA News.

Toribio said his motorbike business was suffering because very few people are traveling during the pandemic.

“I am a Catholic and I really want to support the appeals made by Bishop David. But even my business is going down and I have two college kids to support. These lockdowns are not giving us anything but pain and suffering,” he said.

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