Task force eyes localized barangay-wide lockdowns vs COVID-19
Police personnel enforce a "hard" lockdown in part of the City of Manila on April 22, 2020.
The STAR/Edd Gumban, file
Task force eyes localized barangay-wide lockdowns vs COVID-19
Alexis Romero (Philstar.com) - May 20, 2020 - 7:31pm

MANILA, Philippines — The government may limit lockdowns to barangays or villages with coronavirus cases to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on the economy, an official said.

Carlito Galvez, Jr., chief implementer of the national policy on the coronavirus, said the interior department is now coordinating with local governments to implement a localized lockdown.

"Our way forward is we will localize the national action plan through the LGUs (local government units). This is being done by (Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo) Año. He is talking to all LGUs," Galvez told President Rodrigo Duterte during a meeting on the coronavirus pandemic last Tuesday.

"What we are doing now, Mr. President, is we may no longer declare a lockdown per region, but the lockdown will be imposed by barangay. That means we will narrow the scope. What we will do is we will place barangays with (coronavirus) cases under lockdown to preserve our economic (corridors)," he added.

The entire Philippines is under quarantine, with the cities of Cebu and Mandaue under the strictest enhanced community quarantine (ECQ). Metro Manila, Laguna, Bataan, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Zambales and Angeles City have been placed under a modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) while the rest of the country is under the more relaxed general community quarantine (GCQ).

The Philippine economy contracted by 0.2% in the first quarter — the first since 1998 during the combined El Niño and Asian Financial Crisis — as several  industries suspend operations to comply with the quarantine measures imposed by the government. The pandemic has also forced the government to spend billions in aid to low-income households and workers whose livelihood sources were affected by the lockdown.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said under existing guidelines, local governments have the authority to enforce lockdowns.

"LGUs may declare critical areas (barangays or zones) as ECQ," Roque told The STAR in a text message.

Galvez said the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases would issue guidance on the localized lockdowns.

"For example, if a barangay has a compound with four affected families, it will be placed under a lockdown. We won't allow infections in our economic corridor. We have to preserve our economic corridor.

Duterte reminded the public not to be complacent even if quarantine measures have been eased.

"We are in the process of a gradual opening of the movement of people from their place of residence to the place of work under the general community quarantine," the President said.

"Since there is already the opening, a gradual opening, we will see if it is doable... if the contamination will be as fast as before and it will continue to infect our people are allowed to go out, then we’ll have to just go back to the original (quarantine restriction)," he added.

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