'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: August 12, 2020 - 11:46am

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

August 12, 2020 - 11:46am

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority announces it will allot P20 million from its 2020 internal income for the purchase of COVID-19 vaccines once available to protect its employees.

“The vaccine will add up to our sustained efforts against COVID-19. Our personnel who are mostly frontliners can be fully secured of their health,” MMDA Chairman Danilo Lim says.

“Our employees' families are as important as they are to us. We want them to be protected, too,” Lim adds.

August 8, 2020 - 9:55am

St. Luke's Medical Center announces that its COVID-19 wards and ICUs in Bonifacio Global City and Quezon City are at full capacity. 

"We would like to request those who require immediate care to seek COVID-related treatment from other healthcare facilities until our hospitals are able to accommodate COVID cases again," it says in a statement posted on Facebook.

August 6, 2020 - 7:05pm

Restrictions on transportation during the August 1-18 Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine will be more lenient  than during the previous lockdown, the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease says in a press release.

Tricycles will be allowed to ply routes but are limited to just one passenger while pillion riding on motorcycles will be allowed "provided that they have the IATF-approved barrier installed."

Passengers will not be limited to the driver's spouse or partner.

August 4, 2020 - 11:04am

Quezon City reimposes its liquor ban in light of the Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine declared over Metro Manila.

Under the ban, selling or distributing alcoholic beverages is prohibited "from August 4, 2020 to August 18, 2020 (or until expiration of the MECQ, if MECQ is further extended)."

Previously, selling of alcoholic beverages was allowed from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. with limits on how much alcohol could buy.

Drinking is allowed in private residences.



August 3, 2020 - 2:37pm

The Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila will be on lockdown for two weeks starting August 3 to curb the spread of the coronavirus in the campus. With this, employees will be adopting a work from home arrangement for the time being.

The university currently has four confirmed cases, two recovered patients and one death among employees with three probable and one suspect cases.

“We are taking this two-week timeout as an extra precaution as we acknowledge the current health situation in our campus, in the City of Manila, and in the country. We are hoping that in our own way, we can prevent further COVID-19 infections within our community,” PLM President Emmanuel Leyco said. 

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