DILG optimistic Metro Manila will 'graduate' to GCQ on May 15
Living inside a jeepney vehicle since the declaration of enhance community quarantine, driver Julius Evangelista together with his family are forced to depend on alms from passerby at NS Amoranto in Quezon City after they fail to settle their House Rent in Tondo Manila which caused their eviction. Whilst the government had set the deadline for for first tranche of Special Amelioration Program distribution on April 30, 2020, day to day earner Evangelista said, they were having difficult times claiming the said cash aid due to suspension of mass transportation.
The STAR/Michael Varcas

DILG optimistic Metro Manila will 'graduate' to GCQ on May 15

Franco Luna (Philstar.com) - May 3, 2020 - 12:17pm

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Interior and Local Government said Sunday that all signs are pointing to Metro Manila's possible graduation to general community quarantine (GCQ) after weeks of restricted movement and transportation. 

Speaking in an interview with dzBB Super Radyo, DILG Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya, who also serves as the department's spokesperson, said that going into GCQ would help kickstart the economy. 

Metro Manila has been under enhanced community quarantine for seven weeks in an attempt to flatten the curve of COVID-19 transmission with stringent social distancing measures.

Even without mass testing, the health department is still recording hundreds of cases every day.  The Philippines has increased its capacity for testing, which comes with an expected increase in the number of confirmed cases.

"It looks like Metro Manila will graduate on May 15. But of course, that's still a while away, it's still two weeks from now. By all indications, by May 15, we'll be under GCQ, and our people can go back to work. If that happens, we'll have kickstarted the economy already," Malaya said in a mix of English and Filipino. 

"We're testing a lot more people now, and the positive cases aren't that high, and the data is showing good signs."

Parts of Quezon City likely to stay under ECQ

Malaya clarified, though, that high-risk areas with a large concentration of confirmed cases, such as Quezon City, would have to stay under ECQ for the time being. 

"But when we're on GCQ, we may have to continue the ECQ in some areas...some areas in Quezon City will still remain in ECQ. It's being studied by the technical working group on analytics of the IATF," he said. 

READ: 'We cannot go back': General Community Quarantine is the 'new normal,' Malacañang says

For weeks now, the Department of Health has said that the increase in cases is simply due to enhanced testing capabilities—a statement that Malaya echoed. 

"Given that we're expanding our testing, the number of cases will really go up," he said. 

Malacañang has called general community quarantine rules the "new normal," saying people would not be able to go back to their lives before the pandemic for a while. 

The GCQ will allow certain industries like food production to operate at 100-percent capacity while others will have to limit the number of people reporting to work, although industries are allowed to put in place work arrangements like working from home.

'Fewer violators'

According to Malaya, violators of quarantine rules spiked after Easter Sunday but the number went down after more personnel were deployed and the number of arrests racked up. 

"What I'm noticing more and more now is that the rules are much more relaxed compared to what we did at first. There's a positive difference between ECQ and GCQ," he said. 

The past weeks have seen vigorous enforcement of quarantine rules, including a case in Quezon City where a retired soldier was shot by police who said he was armed.

"It looks like they've accepted the government's regulations already. The number of cases has gone down," Malaya said. 

In a separate statement, Police Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, commander of the enforcing arm of the IATF, said that police would be setting up more mobile checkpoints and intensify beat patrols in areas that were placed under GCQ. 

READ: General community quarantine to be implemented in moderate, low-risk areas

“The intensified police visibility is aimed at ensuring that while the restrictions are lessened under the GCQ, the basic rules to protect the people from coronavirus like physical distancing and wearing of face masks, are still observed,” said Eleazar.

According to the Joint Task Force Covid Shield's latest update on Sunday, 158,353 violators have been penalized since March 17. 

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