In a televised address last night, President Duterte said the National Capital Region; Cagayan Valley; Central Luzon; the provinces of Cavite, Laguna, Batangas and Quezon (Region 4-A); the provinces of Pangasinan and Albay as well as Davao City would be placed under GCQ “until we have reviewed the general situation.”
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Duterte: Metro Manila under GCQ on June 1
Christina Mendez (The Philippine Star) - May 29, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Metro Manila and several other areas in Luzon will transition to a general community quarantine (GCQ) starting June 1, with the option for local areas with a high risk of coronavirus contagion to again tighten quarantine restrictions.

In a televised address last night, President Duterte said the National Capital Region; Cagayan Valley; Central Luzon; the provinces of Cavite, Laguna, Batangas and Quezon (Region 4-A); the provinces of Pangasinan and Albay as well as Davao City would be placed under GCQ “until we have reviewed the general situation.”

The rest of the country will be under modified general community quarantine or MGCQ.

“Let us move to the so-called new normal,” he said.

 

Duterte announced his decision after hours of meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.

“We are not happy to put you in this place,” he told the nation, adding that the decision was reached in line with the recommendation of the IATF. “We are doing this because the interest of the nation calls for it, demands for it.”

He stressed the importance of continuing to wear face masks in public, to protect oneself and others from the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), and to abide by health safety measures such as physical distancing.

From May 15 to 31, Cebu City and Mandaue City had been placed
under ECQ, while Metro Manila and seven other provinces in Luzon were under MECQ.

“In other areas, it will be, again, on a piecemeal basis, depending on the viability of the place to meet the challenges of COVID. But from time to time, Secretary (Harry) Roque will give us the places where there will be changes,” Duterte said, referring to his spokesman.

Duterte invoked the police power of the state to come out with measures to protect public interest, health and safety. He said a contagion “where everybody is dying” is included in the police power of the state.

 “The state has the right to come in and put a stop to it. It is for the survival of the country,” he said. “The state has every right to control your movement to prevent you from passing on the contagion to other places.”

Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade spoke of plans for the gradual opening of airports. He also said dedicated bus lanes would be set up along the inner lanes of EDSA once buses are allowed to resume operations.

Duterte ordered concerned agencies to make sure that all repatriated overseas Filipino workers are taken care of, after some 30,000 were stranded in Metro Manila for the past two months.

Earlier in the day, Roque said the Department of Health (DOH) had reported the case doubling rate of COVID-19 continues to slow down.

“The level of confidence is very high,” he said. “We have proven that Filipinos are disciplined.”

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the so-called “doubling time” of COVID-19 cases and mortalities nationwide have slowed down, and this served as basis for the IATF’s recommendation to place Metro Manila and other considered high risk areas under GCQ.

From two to three days, Vergeire said, case and mortality doubling time rose to five days and is now pegged at about seven days.

The DOH explained that it continues to advocate the use of science and the best available evidence as guide in the government’s decision-making.

Police actions

Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, Philippine National Police (PNP) deputy chief for operations, assured the people yesterday that policemen are ready for changes in terms of security once Metro Manila’s quarantine status is downgraded to GCQ next week.

He also urged the public to continue following health and safety protocols to prevent another surge in COVID-19 cases.

People should not treat the easing of restrictions as a signal to relax and ignore minimum health standards.

He said citizens are still required to wear face masks, observe physical distancing rules and authorities would still ban unnecessary travel.

He also urged local government units to still impose a curfew to prevent people from loitering on the streets at night.

Sen. Grace Poe urged the government and the public not to let their guard down even with the transition to GCQ.

Poe said the national and local governments should be present every step of the way to set and implement clear protocols on how the people will deal with the new normal.

“We must not let our guard down even with the transition to GCQ. Crucial to the resumption of more economic activities is public transportation which is the backbone of urban mobility,” she noted.

Eleazar said to ensure people would still comply with safety guidelines, the police will remain visible on the streets and set up mobile checkpoints and random inspection of vehicles.

He said inspecting all vehicles on the road is no longer possible as it will only result in traffic congestion.

“We cannot check all the vehicles because it will defeat the purpose of partially re-opening the economy. The solution here is to have mobile checkpoints,” he said.

He said citizens authorized to leave their homes are no longer required to carry quarantine passes once Metro Manila transitions into a less stringent QCQ. He said it is impractical for the police to ask every individual on the streets for a quarantine pass when restrictions are lifted.

Aside from healthcare workers and other frontliners, workers of businesses that would resume operations and those who need to avail of essential goods and services are also included in the exemption.

Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said employees going back to work will not be required to obtain travel authority and should be allowed through checkpoints with only their company IDs.

The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) said employees returning to work in industries that have been allowed to resume operations are considered authorized persons outside residence (APOR). 

More industries are expected to reopen soon, as most of the country is preparing to shift to a more lenient GCQ.

Senior citizens who have work and in need of medical attention are allowed to go out for as long as they will present ID cards and proof they need to undergo a medical checkup.

Those who are below 21 years but are employed would also be allowed to go out, Eleazar said.

Eleazar clarified that residents who would buy basic goods and avail of services could do their chores in their localities only and should not cross boundaries of cities and municipalities.

Año said at least 65,000 passenger jeepneys would still be banned from operating despite the possible shift to GCQ in Metro Manila next week. 

He said other forms of mass transportation would be opened but traditional jeepneys would not resume operations.

During normal times, an estimated three-million commuters use public utility jeepneys in Metro Manila.

Año said jeepneys could be limited to operating as delivery vehicles as they will not be allowed to ply commuters.

Modern jeepneys or Ejeepneys would be allowed to operate by the Department of Transportation (DOTr) but on a limited capacity.

Jeepney groups have appealed to the government to allow the over 65,000 jeepneys in Metro Manila to resume operations. There are more than 180,000 jeepneys nationwide, with some allowed to ply the roads in the provinces.

Obet Martin, president of Pasang Masda, said that jeepney drivers have been among the hardest hit by the lockdown as public transportation has been stalled for over two months and only a few have received their emergency cash subsidy under the Social Amelioration Program. Mayen Jaymalin, Emmanuel Tupas, Romina Cabrera, Cecille Suerte Felipe

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