A Jesuit priest in the Philippines has appealed to the public for help in providing transport for health workers hit by a suspension to the transport network on the country’s main and most populous island. President Rodrigo Duterte has placed the whole of Luzon including the National Capital Region (NCR) under “enhanced lockdown” and canceled both government and private work. The lockdown included suspending public transport from March 17 until April 13. Luzon is the Philippines’ largest island and is home to more than 50 million people, or about half the country’s population. Duterte imposed strict home quarantines in all households on March 16, limiting movement to those seeking basic necessities and services.
“Only those with establishments providing basic necessities and such activities related to food and medicine shall be open,” according to Duterte’s order. These include markets, supermarkets, convenience stores, hospitals, clinics and pharmacies as well as power, energy, water and telecommunications suppliers and facilities. Domestic and international flights are also canceled. According to a Department of Transportation directive, all subways are closed, as are operations of taxis, jeepneys, buses and all other public transport. Only one person per household is allowed outside their home to buy basic necessities. “The president’s ultimate goal is to save ourselves from ourselves,” Duterte’s spokesman Salvador Panelo said in a television interview. Media people can travel within the quarantine area provided they obtain a special pass within 72 hours of the lockdown order being issued. The shutdown of the transport system, however, will prevent health workers from getting to work in hospitals and clinics, said Father Manoling Francisco, a Jesuit composer and theologian who has been raising funds to buy face masks and hand sanitizers for doctors and health workers in hospitals. As a result, the priest has issued a public appeal asking people with vehicles to give health workers a ride to and from their workplaces. Meanwhile, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines has urged people to follow the strict government instructions and procedures in order to combat the spread of the Covid-19 virus. Bishop Arturo M. Bastes, retired chairman of the Episcopal Commission on Mission, said that “the faithful, in these trying times, must practice generosity. This is a time not to be individualistic but to share what we have with the poor.” According to the World Health Organization, 140 people had been infected by Covid-19 in the Philippines as of March 17, resulting in a dozen deaths.
Support UCA News...
As 2020 unfolds, we are asking readers like you to help us keep Union of Catholic Asian News (UCA News) free so it can be accessed from anywhere in the world at no cost.
That has been our policy for years and was made possible by donations from European Catholic funding agencies. However, like the Church in Europe, these agencies are in decline and the immediate and urgent claims on their funds for humanitarian emergencies in Africa and parts of Asia mean there is much less to distribute than there was even a decade ago.
Forty years ago, when UCA News was founded, Asia was a very different place - many poor and underdeveloped countries with large populations to feed, political instability and economies too often poised on the edge of collapse. Today, Asia is the economic engine room of the world and funding agencies quite rightly look to UCA News to do more to fund itself.
UCA News has a unique product developed from a view of the world and the Church through informed Catholic eyes. Our journalistic standards are as high as any in the quality press; our focus is particularly on a fast-growing part of the world - Asia - where, in some countries the Church is growing faster than pastoral resources can respond to - South Korea, Vietnam and India to name just three.
And UCA News has the advantage of having in its ranks local reporters that cover 22 countries and experienced native English-speaking editors to render stories that are informative, informed and perceptive.
We report from the ground where other news services simply can't or won't go. We report the stories of local people and their experiences in a way that Western news outlets simply don't have the resources to reach. And we report on the emerging life of new Churches in old lands where being a Catholic can at times be very dangerous.
With dwindling support from funding partners in Europe and the USA, we need to call on the support of those who benefit from our work.
Click here to find out the ways you can support UCA News. You can make a difference for as little as US$5...