Photo dated April 30 shows tricycle drivers from Mandaluyong City seated inside City Hall to claim their cash aid under the Social Amelioration Program.
The STAR/Michael Varcas
Majority of Metro Manila mayors in favor of shift to GCQ, council chair says
( - May 25, 2020 - 3:24pm

MANILA, Philippines — All but three of Metro Manila's local chief executives are in favor of graduating the region from modified enhanced community quarantine to general community quarantine by June, the region's council chairman said Monday. 

This was confirmed Monday afternoon by Parañaque Mayor and Metro Manila Council chairman Edwin Olivarez, who said that the economic impact of months of lockdown had become too much to handle.

According to Olivarez, the sentiment is backed by Valenzuela City Mayor Rex Gatchalian and Navotas City Mayor Toby Tiangco who both favor a possible shift to GCQ. 

“The economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in Metro Manila alone is horrible and horrifying,” he said earlier.

RELATED: Metro Manila council chair backs downgrade to GCQ

“Workers in essential services such as health and frontline emergency response are at high risk of infection. Grocery workers, flight attendants and auto workers are among those who have seen both their health and livelihoods threatened by the pandemic,” he said.

Gatchalian earlier Monday said that Valenzuela City is in an artificial increase stage, which means that the increase in recorded cases was only a result of the increased testing. 

Having recently wrapped up mass testing of all the city's known suspect and probable cases, Valenzuela is looking at testing its most vulnerable, including OFWs, frontliners and others.

Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, who sits as vice chair of the National Task Force against COVID-19, also said that Metro Manila is more likely to be put under general community quarantine if the situation improves, though he did not specify what improvements the task force was looking for and to what extent. 

READ: Palace says target capacity of 30,000 daily coronavirus tests met

Earlier Monday, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque claimed that the health department had already met its national testing capacity target of of 30,000 tests per day despite the department's data showing actual tests conducted are about a third of that.

The government on May 16 already allowed the general public to go back to work in some industries in areas under modified enhanced community quarantine and GCQ.

This, despite the warnings of academics that prematurely forcing the re-opening of the economy would lead to as many as 24,000 cases and 1,700 deaths by June, especially without mass testing, which the Palace has said it would leave to the private sector instead. 

RELATED: Premature GCQ in Metro Manila could add 24K cases, 1,700 deaths by June — UP study | Less than half of LGUs complete aid distribution nine weeks into ECQ — Duterte

Despite the lack of testing, NTF chief implementer Carlito Galvez went as far as saying earlier that the government is "winning" the war against the pandemic.

Throughout the past two months Rodrigo Duterte's response to the global pandemic has largely seen stories of delayed aid distribution, double standards in law enforcement and assaults on online dissent.

Some of the country’s most vulnerable strata, including workers, healthcare frontliners, and the disabled continue to fall through the cracks sans government support despite the chief executive now holding sweeping special powers.

The number of active COVID-19 cases in the Philippines stands at 9,918 as of the health department's latest tally Sunday afternoon. — Franco Luna with a report from The STAR/Ghio Ong and Ralph Edwin Villanueva

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