MANILA, Philippines, March 23 ------ President Duterte wants to declare a state of national emergency and is asking Congress to grant him additional powers to cope with the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Malacañang stressed that Duterte is not seeking “emergency powers,” adding that a proposal to allow the state’s takeover of private firms for quarantine and related purposes came from Congress.
Duterte is also turning to prayer to fight the contagion. In Proclamation 934 that he signed last Saturday, Duterte declared the fourth week of March as a National Week of Prayer against COVID-19. In the proclamation, the President said the state recognizes the religious nature of Filipinos and the “vital role of faith in bringing about peace, solidarity, compassion and heroism in times of adversity.” “During the aforesaid week, I urge all Filipinos of all faiths, religious traditions and backgrounds to unite our hearts in prayer as we face the COVID-19 threat, fixing our eyes on the Almighty in this time of affliction,” Duterte said.
The President urged the public to pray for the recovery of people who are suffering from COVID-19, for the comfort of those who have lost loves ones, and for the protection of all, especially the most vulnerable sectors of society. “Pray also for strength and endurance for our outstanding medical professionals and health workers on the frontlines, your military and law enforcement officers, the government officials and personnel dealing with the present threat and all Filipinos who are working tirelessly to protect our communities, sacrificing their lives in the service of the country,” Duterte said. “Through prayer, let us, as one nation, find strength to defeat this invisible enemy, with the aid and blessing of God,” he added.
The Philippines has 380 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 25 deaths as of yesterday. The pandemic has prompted Duterte to place the entire Luzon under an enhanced community quarantine from March 17 to April 13. Sen. Bong Go yesterday commended Duterte’s decision to declare a National Week of Prayer. “I hope this paves the way for all of us to unite as a nation, notwithstanding our religion, and for us to also offer prayers for our frontliners who are leading our fight against COVID-19,” Go said in a statement in Filipino.
The senator seconded the importance of the President’s declaration, saying it is one of the ways to encourage and promote unity among Filipinos in the name of a common goal. “We have gone through a lot of challenges. This is proof of our strength. Gaya ng ating pagdarasal noon upang maibsan ang hirap na pinagdaanan nating lahat, now more than ever, Filipinos need to pray,” Go said.