Duterte OKs GCQ for Metro Manila by June 1
(Philstar.com) - May 28, 2020 - 9:27pm

MANILA, Philippines — Prohibitions from the past two months of enhanced community quarantine are going to be relaxed by May's end, the chief executive said late Thursday night. 

At a televised meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases, President Rodrigo Duterte announced that Metro Manila would graduate to general community quarantine after 72 days since the enhanced community quarantine was implemented on March 17. 

"NCR will be placed under GCQ starting June 1. The rest of the country will be placed under modified GCQ," Duterte said. 

"We are not happy to put you in this place, but after review, maybe we can."

Since then, and despite Duterte holding sweeping special powers for 65 of those days, no semblance of mass testing ever materialized in the administration's COVID-19 response, which has instead featured incursions on dissent and free speech, and overzealous police enforcement that many called selective. 

Both the Metro Manila council and the IATF-EID, whose recommendations Duterte has historically approved, reported days ago that they were in favor of re-opening Metro Manila in order to revive the economy. 

Despite well-documented lapses on the part of the government's response to the pandemic, public servants have opted to lean on Filipinos being "disciplined" in coming to Thursday's decision. 

This comes despite recommendations by researchers from the University of the Philippines and the University of Santo Tomas that a shift to GCQ would only lead to another rise in coronavirus cases and even yield losses of human life numbering in the thousands. 

Malacañang earlier claimed incorrectly that the country has met and even exceeded its target national testing capacity of 30,000 per day despite data from the health department showing otherwise. 

After weeks of quarantine, the steady influx of new cases has not yet abated, with the health department recording its biggest daily rise of 539 new cases on Thursday afternoon. 

The number of active cases stands at 11,069 as of this publishing, with many set to return to work by June as a result of the president's pronouncement. — Franco Luna

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