HOMEBOUND SOLONS IN CHINA BUCK SARS QUARANTINE

Shanghai, China, March 28, 2003 -- Congressmen visiting this city for the
country's First Solo Exhibition on Thursday frowned on the possibility of
being quarantined for possible exposure to the Severe Acute Respiratory
Syndrome (SARS).

Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr., who headed the 11-member House delegation
here, said the quarantine order is "ill-advised and preposterous"
considering that they were here to represent the country and promote trade
and business.

"A few minutes of checking will do but not quarantine. It's crazy," De
Venecia said during Thursday's opening of the Philippine's Solo Exhibition
at the Shanghai Exhibition Center.

Philippine health authorities have asked people arriving from China,
Hongkong, Singapore and Canada to adopt precautionary measures like staying
at home for six to seven days to test for possible SARS exposure.

Health Secretary Manuel Dayrit said the congressmen must be quarantined
upon their return to protect the public.

De Venecia stressed he has not heard any reported SARS case in Shanghai and
called the quarantine order as "ill-timed" since the country was making a
pitch to sell its products to China's fastest growing city.

"Let's not make more false alarms, let's not make more crisis. I think it's
exaggerated. At any rate, let's take precautions," he said.

Main convenor Manila Rep. Harry Angping said Manila authorities should have
not worry about people arriving from Shanghai since the last reported cases
were mostly from the southern part of China.

"There is no SARS here. People are still walking on the streets and there
are two big exhibitions going-on and one is ours," Angping, chair of the
House committee on trade and industry, said.

Reps. Rodolfo Plaza (Agusan del Sur) and Del de Guzman (Marikina) branded
the quarantine plan as "sabotage" as it was timed for the opening of the
First Solo Exhibition of the country.

"It is the first time that we are doing this in Shanghai and parang
sinasabotahe nila. Pangit naman. They should even be happy that Congress is
doing its role in promoting the country in China," Plaza said.

De Guzman, whose district is represented here through Marikina shoe makers
who participated in the exhibit, said: "We have taken great risks in coming
here and representing the country tapos ganun ang gagawin nila sa amin."
(By PRUDENCIO GADIL, Malaya)


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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