By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
President Duterte said the government was inclined to extend the Luzon-wide partial lockdown or enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) until April 30 as the country continues to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
Duterte made the statement in his late-night public address Monday, six days before the ECQ ends on Easter Sunday.
In his hour-long address, Duterte told the public that the ECQ may be extended until the end of the month.
“If you really want to know, we have discussed it actually even before this, we are inclined to extend the lockdown up to April 30. Tingnan natin after that (We’ll see after that),” he said.
“In the meantime, mag double-time kami sa tinatawag niyong (we’ll go over the proposal for the) middle class,” he added, referring to Cavite Governor Jonvic Remulla’s appeal to include the middle-income earners in the government’s social amelioration program.
Earlier, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said President Duterte was seriously evaluating recommendations before making his decision on the ECQ soon.
“The President is seriously evaluating the inputs and suggestions given by various sectors of society for either the extension or the lifting of the enhanced community quarantine or lockdown, and will take the best option that will purge us of this pandemic disease. He will announce his decision very soon,” he said.
He said Duterte was appealing to the public to take the COVID-19 situation seriously and follow the protocols set by the Inter-agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.
“They were placed there for the protection and survival of everyone. Any transgressor will be dealt with in accordance with the law,” Panelo said.
Cabinet Secretary and IATF spokesman Karlo Nograles said lifting, extending, or expanding the Luzon-wide ECQ will not be an easy decision to make as there were a lot of factors to be considered.
He, however, acknowledged that it was important to make a decision soon.
“We have to make a decision and we have to make it as soon as possible,” he said Monday.
“It will not be an easy decision, napakahirap po, it’s very, very difficult, only because ang daming factors na kailangan namin tingnan: kapakanan ng taumbayan, ang (there are a lot of factors that we need to look at: the welfare of the public, the) health, economic, social, security, medical,” he added.
Nograles earlier said an IATF sub-technical working group headed by the Department of Health (DOH) was directed to convene all concerned agencies and to finalize the aggregation and analysis of all relevant data applicable to the contained area.
The parameters adopted by the IATF for deciding on the total or partial lifting or the possible extension or expansion of the ECQ are:
1. Trends in the COVID-19 epidemiological curve, which include, among others, the doubling time, acceleration, or deceleration of new cases;
2. Capacity of the health care system, which includes, among others, the number and availability of quarantine, isolation, and treatment facilities; capability to mount contact tracing; availability of personal protective equipment (PPEs) for frontliners; and the testing capacity of the country;
3. Social factors;
4. Economic factors; and
5. Security factors.
Luzon is under an enhanced community quarantine until April 12 due to the threat of COVID-19. To date, the country has reported 3,660 COVID-19 cases, 73 of whom have recovered while 163 died.