By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
With the third extension of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) lapsing in six days, Malacañang said there was still no final decision whether to lift the lockdown in Metro Manila and other areas.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque made the statement after false information circulated on social media that the ECQ in Metro Manila was extended until early June.
He added that the Inter-agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases will make its recommendation on Monday.
In an interview over state-run PTV 4, Roque clarified that there was still no final decision on the level of quarantine restrictions to be imposed on Metro Manila after May 16.
He said, however, that not all areas in the National Capital Region (NCR) will be placed on general community quarantine (GCQ) status after the current ECQ’s scheduled expiry on May 15.
“Hindi po mananatili sa ECQ ang buong Metro Manila after May 16 at hindi naman po mag-g-GCQ and buong Metro Manila after May 16 (The entire Metro Manila will not stay under the ECQ after May 16 and the entire NCR will not be downgraded to GCQ),” he said.
“It will granular, it will be surgical,” he added.
Roque said that the IATF will have a special meeting on Monday morning so they will be able to recommend to President Duterte on what will be the situation once the quarantine expires.
“lnaasahan natin sa hapon isusumite na nila kay Presidente ang kanilang rekomendasyon kung ano ang dapat mangyari sa mga lugar na nananatili po sa ECQ hanggang ngayon (We expect on Monday afternoon, they will give to the President their recommendation on what should happen especially on areas who will remain under the ECQ),” he said.
“‘Yan po ay ibabase natin sa siyensiya. Titignan natin ang dami ng kaso ng COVID sa isang siyudad, sa isang barangay, at titignan din po natin yung kapasidad na magbigay ng critical care (We will base it on science and will look at the number of COVID-19 cases in a city or barangay, and the capacity to provide critical care),” he added.
The Palace official said that with the country’s improved testing capacity, the government now knows which areas can be considered as “critical” and those that are not and could be covered by less restrictive measures.
Meanwhile, Roque said that the IATF will consider the recommendation of Metro Manila mayors to extend the ECQ in the NCR until June 15.
“Ikokonsidera naman po ang rekomendasyon ng mga mayors, bakit naman hindi? Sila talaga ang nag-i-implement ng ating programa laban sa COVID-19 (We will consider their recommendations, of course. They are the ones implementing our COVID-19 protocols),” he said.
On the other hand, Roque said the IATF has approved the recommendation to retain the province of Abra under the GCQ as it is still considered as a low-risk area.