PFP Faction makes inquiry to Prime Minister Declaring State of Emergency for COVID-19 | SOUALIGA NEWSDAY

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – Members of Parliament (MPs) for the Party For Progress (PFP) Faction, MPs Melissa Gumbs and Raeyhon Peterson, submitted pressing questions to the Honorable Prime Minister Silveria E. Jacobs requesting answers for the abrupt nature of the decision for putting Sint Maarten under a 24hr curfew and lockdown that is scheduled to last two weeks, the PFP faction said in a press statement on Monday.

The justification for this was the global pandemic of the coronavirus, also known as COVID 19. The news, while rumored since Friday on social media, came as an abrupt shock for many. The state of emergency, which was confirmed late Saturday afternoon, went into effect at midnight on Sunday morning, causing much confusion throughout the community.

“Although we understand the reasons for going into a total lockdown,” MP Peterson states, “the way it was done was very haphazard. It may have been rumored or threatened in the days before, but it comes across as if there is no consideration for those who are less fortunate in our community. Moreover, many others who are not on social media are not aware that we are now on lockdown.”

After reviewing the national decree that sent the country into lockdown at midnight Sunday, both MPs queried the timing between the lockdown’s announcement and its actual effective time, as many questions were fired their way by concerned citizens about access to food, emergency services and more.

The faction requested further information on five key points, including the providing of the lockdown information to the elderly and those without access to Facebook in the community. Both MPs expressed concern over workers in the tourism industry and other sectors who rely on weekly or bi-weekly paychecks to sustain them, noting that as of yesterday, there was no compensation plan in place for them. The faction took note that the stimulus package had not yet been set up in its entirety as of Sunday, 5 April 2020. This stimulus package is meant to provide relief opportunities for those who have lost or are at risk of losing their jobs, among other things.

“In addition to all of this, there is the matter of the exclusion of Parliament in this decision,” Peterson continues. “My legal opinion is that the Constitution was not adhered to in the correct way with the enactment of this state of emergency and lockdown. Parliament has a significant role to play when it comes to judging the necessity and the continuation of a state of emergency, but this seems to have been forgotten in the haste of enacting this decision.”

“We commend the Prime Minister, her support staff and EOC for the work that they continue to do to keep us safe,” Gumbs states. “These are unprecedented times and everyone, locally and globally, is doing their best to manage and plan around the risks. We can agree in principle with the lockdown and actually would have welcomed it sooner. But we’ve also stressed that clear communication makes or breaks crisis situations; whether hurricane, earthquake or pandemic, it has to be to the point and understandable. In this case, this move, while we applaud it, has raised these questions, and possibly more while several aspects have been left out of consideration.”

Both MPs urge the community to comply with the state of emergency rules, encouraging residents in every district to stay indoors and stay safe, whether they feel ill or not.

“Pay attention to emergency numbers and contact information,” Gumbs states. “We must also remember the spirit of togetherness that brought us through the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Irma. As COVID 19 goes through its various peaks around the world, we will need that same community mentality of helping our neighbors and those less fortunate to get through what comes after. We can only move forward together.”


MP Melissa Gumbs


Source: Souliga Newsday