LGUs can’t modify quarantine levels

Romina Cabrera - The Philippine Star
LGUs canât modify quarantine levels
Interior Secretary Eduardo Año had earlier warned government officials, especially provincial governors, against unilaterally declaring their areas under ECQ.
DILG Facebook Photo

MANILA, Philippines — Only the national government will have the authority to modify community quarantine levels in cities, municipalities, provinces and regions in the country.

The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) yesterday clarified the matter as it stressed that local government units would no longer have authority to declare which level of community quarantine would be placed even in their areas of jurisdiction.

It will now be the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) that will determine if a city, town or province will be placed under the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) or the more lenient general community quarantine (GCQ), DILG spokesperson Jonathan Malaya said.

LGUs only have the authority to declare lockdowns in their barangays but not cities or municipalities, Malaya added.

“The IATF is using a new decision tool for all LGUs wherein the parameters are case doubling time and critical care infrastructure, among others. But barangays remain under cities and towns,” he said in a text message.

Interior Secretary Eduardo Año had earlier warned government officials, especially provincial governors, against unilaterally declaring their areas under ECQ.

Año said that declaring ECQ without the approval of the IATF could complicate the distribution of the Social Amelioration Program and other assistance.

‘Speed up mass testing’

Meanwhile, the government may be forced to extend the ECQ in Metro Manila and other areas if the mass testing for the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) infections does not speed up, Sen. Panfilo Lacson warned yesterday.

Lacson said the government as well as the general population must exert all effort to make the latest extension of ECQ work not only to save lives but to lessen the damage of the crisis to the economy.

He said some restrictions on economic sectors and activities may be eased but these would depend on the infection rate and healthcare capacity of a particular area or region.

On the other hand, Sen. Nancy Binay said the IATF should immediately come up with a comprehensive yet easy-to-follow “blue book” on the new normal as areas covered by ECQ anticipates the lifting of the lockdown on May 15.

“We are asking the people to embrace the new normal. But the question is: is the government and the private sector ready for the new normal?” Binay said.

She said the proposed blue book for public, local government units and essential businesses in the private sector would serve as a guide on what to do and expect once the enhanced community quarantine is relaxed or lifted on May 15.

“It’s filling in the details. This is about guiding the public on what to expect once restrictions in traveling and going to work are relaxed, and how to manage people’s expectations,” she said. – With Paolo Romero

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