'Late night with Duterte': Announcement of new quarantine status comes as previous classifications expire
President Rodrigo Duterte talks to the people after holding a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) core members at the Malago Clubhouse in Malacañang on July 15, 2020.
Presidential Photo/Simeon Celi, Jr.
'Late night with Duterte': Announcement of new quarantine status comes as previous classifications expire
Gaea Katreena Cabico (Philstar.com) - July 16, 2020 - 10:29am

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 6:05 p.m.) — President Rodrigo Duterte has a habit of addressing the nation to announce community quarantine measures late in the day or even past midnight, to the detriment of people’s regular sleeping hours and overall health. 

But aside from these health effects, the president’s late night shows also have an impact on how businesses and ordinary Filipinos plan ahead as the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic casts an uncertain future on them. 

In a speech late Wednesday, Duterte announced new community quarantine status for the next two weeks, the same day previous quarantine qualifications expired. 

Cebu City in Central Visayas transitioned from the strictest enhanced community quarantine to modified ECQ. Meanwhile, Duterte decided to keep Metro Manila under general community quarantine until the end of the month. 

These fresh quarantine classifications immediately took effect Thursday, July 16, and will be in place until the end of the month.

‘Wasted day’

For Paolo*, a resident of Cebu City and a communications lecturer at a local university, the late announcement left workers in the government scrambling to communicate changes to the public. 

"The announcement was made when the community papers were already out to bed and the news stations were already off air. People got their news via social media," he told Philstar.com.

“The effect is a wasted day. Because the announcement was made late, government workers wake up to a public that is already demanding implementation. Workers will spend the whole day today operationalizing what was announced while being demoralized by a derisive public,” he added. 

Cebu was under ECQ for a month before it was downgraded to MECQ. In areas under modified ECQ, movement of all residents will be limited to accessing essential goods and services and for work in permitted offices or establishments. 

He also said the late announcement gave both media outlets and communications teams of government agencies “less time to frame the story properly.”

“Here in the city, framing is on the new status when it should be that strict quarantine procedures and protocols remain in place,” he said. 

Mia*, who works with the local government in Cebu City, said that the change in status also means a sudden change in routine. While she used to report to the office at most once a week under ECQ, "we are now required to report thrice a week."

She will have to find a way to adjust to a work arrangement that she only woke up to on Thursday morning. "I find this super problematic personally since I go home to immunocompromised parents."

Longer lead time

This was not the first time the chief executive announced updated quarantine measures on the same day previous qualifications lapsed. He did it on June 15 when he announced Cebu City would be reverted back to ECQ. The ECQ classification took effect the next day. 

In another late-night public address on June 30, the president said Cebu City would remain under ECQ, while Metro Manila would stay under GCQ until mid-July. The effectivity date was the next day.

Malacañang believes people will not have a hard time adjusting to the government’s last-minute announcements. “Classifications mostly are the same or less stringent. [Local government units] won’t find it difficult to transition,” Roque said in a text message to Philstar.com.

But this is not the case for Leo*, a restaurant manager in Metro Manila, who said the government should announce new rules a week at the very least before their implementation.

“We need to plan for the week ahead, for the month ahead, whatever the timeline is. How do you plan for a bulk order for next week if there is a possibility that they will announce a day before that 'sorry, businesses have to close',’” Leo told Philstar.com in Filipino.

Planning ahead

The changing quarantine classifications also prompted restaurant managers like Leo to do weekly inventory forecast, instead of monthly. 

"If you have a forecast of, say, two weeks, and then you have to stop operations, then you might have stock expire or go bad. Sales are already low and you'll get more spoilages and wastages," he said.

Duterte previously publicized fresh quarantine measures days before they were expected to take effect.

But because late announcements from Duterte have become usual, the management of a mall in Makati has made it a habit to check which industries will be allowed to operate if a shift in quarantine status happens. 

“Even before we shift to GCQ, our leasing team is communicating from time to time with our tenants and informing them about guidelines needed to be followed should they be allowed to operate. We also need to be prepared so we know how to communicate possible changes to our shoppers or customers,” Pauline*, the mall’s marketing officer, said.

Political analyst Dennis Coronacion said the habit of the government to announce decisions until the final minute “slows down” businesses in making the necessary adjustments in their operations.

“Once a locality is placed under new quarantine level, one of the first things that the businesses and schools have to do is to make a new set of guidelines that mirrors that of the national government’s,” Coronacion said.

*Names have been changed to protect the privacy of respondents

As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: October 23, 2020 - 7:38am

Follow this thread for updates on COVID-19 risk levels, safety measures, and data from Metro Manila's local government units.

Photo: The STAR/Michael Varcas

October 23, 2020 - 7:38am

The Manila city government and Quiapo Church have agreed to cancel the grand procession of the image of the Black Nazarene in January 2021 in light of the pandemic.

It is the first time that the procession for the image of the Black Nazarene, where millions of barefoot devotees take part yearly.

Mayor Francisco ‘Isko Moreno’ Domagoso says in a statement that public health protocol must prevail over religious traditions because of the threat posed by COVID-19. 

"Nakikisuyo po ako, iwasan po muna natin ang mga parada at prusisyon ngayong may pandemya dulot ng sakit na COVID-19. Maaari pong mapahamak ang ating mga deboto, mailagay sila sa alanganin," Domagoso says.

(I am asking that we avoid parades and processions during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our devotees might get sick, they will be at risk) 

October 19, 2020 - 8:55am

Manila Mayor Isko Moreno will raise the capacity at churches and other places of worship to 30% from 10% of seating capacity.

Moreno says in a report by Super Radyo dzBB, the increased seating capacity "on the premise that the leaders of the chruch will continue to practice simple protocol under the IATF rules."

October 8, 2020 - 2:33pm

The city of Manila  prohibits the use of karaokes, videokes and other sound-producing devices that may disturb the community from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday to Saturday.

The city council released the ordinance to support students studying from home.

Violators will be fined P1,000 for first offense, P2,000 for second offense and P3,000 for the third and succeeding offenses.

October 7, 2020 - 1:46pm

The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board has ordered the removal of fees from Automated Fare Collection System cards.

This comes within days of the Department of Transportation ordering the "No Beep card, no ride" policy on the EDSA Busway over the collection of P80 per card by service provider AF Payments Inc.

AF Payments had said the cards were being sold for zero profit and were partially subsidized.

The LTFRB says commuters will only have to pay for their fare and not the reloadable cards.

October 6, 2020 - 12:00pm

AF Payments Inc. will give away 125,000 Beep cards to the public for free, ONE News reports.

This comes after the Department of Transportation threatened to suspend the use of Beep cards on the EDSA Busway over an 80-peso fee that AFPI collects for the cards.

President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday night said the cards should be free.

ONE News reports said the cost of the cards, which AF Payments last week said is sold at zero profit and is already partially subsidized, will be shouldered by its shareholders "as well as donations from Ayala Infrastructure's various business groups." 

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