By Jel Santos
Majority of the 17 Metro Manila mayors voted to extend the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) until May 31 during the most recent Metro Manila Council (MMC) teleconference meeting, an official of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) disclosed on Monday.
On Saturday, the MMC, health experts, and MMDA officials had a meeting to decide what the Council should recommend to the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) to impose in Metro Manila after May 15, when the latest community quarantine extension expires.
Assistant Secretary Celine Pialago, MMDA spokesperson, said 10 mayors voted in favor of extending the ECQ in Metro Manila. But, she made no mention if the other seven mayors were in favor of transitioning to the General Community Quarantine (GCQ) or they abstained in the voting.
“Ten out of 17 Metro Manila mayors were in favor of extending the enhanced community quarantine until May 31 because they are considering the health and safety of our countrymen,” she said in Filipino during the Laging Handa Briefing.
Pialago did not reveal the names of the 10 mayors who voted for the extension of the ECQ. Most of the mayors raised in the meeting that they are afraid of the possibility of the second wave of COVID-19 cases in Metro Manila, she said.
According to her, most of the mayors and health experts find it risky to the GCQ or to the new normal wherein some public transportations will be available, and some essential establishments will be opened.
“They find it too risky because we are still continuously doing mass testing; contact tracing; transfer of persons under monitoring and persons under investigation; and sanitizing areas,” he said.
Pialago said MMDA General Manager Jose Arturo Garcia presented the scenarios of ECQ, GCQ, and Modified Community Quarantine (MCQ) to the IATF.
The only appeal of the Metro Manila mayors is for the IATF to have a single policy and guideline in the National Capital Region (NCR), the MMDA spokesperson said.
“Since NCR po must act as one region, it cannot be like one city is ECQ, the other is GCQ, and the other is MCQ, since the cities here are interconnected,” she said.
MMDA, according to Pialago, is prepared whatever will be the decision of the IATF on the matter. “Although it will be extra work for MMDA, we are ready to implement should there be a transition from ECQ to GCQ,” Pialago.
To recall, the MMDA general manager explained that if the IATF chooses ECQ, it will be extended for approximately 15 days.
In GCQ, Garcia said some selected stores will be opened as well as transportation, but with strict guidelines so that the disease will not spread.
The MCQ scenario, he said, is that areas with COVID-19 cases will be under quarantine.
“Should IATF pick ‘modified,’ it will be up to the Department of Health and concerned local government units which areas will be under ECQ or GCQ based on their data,” he said.
He said the problematic thing about the MCQ is that Metro Manila is interconnected, meaning it will be hard for people to travel for work or any essential transaction within the metropolis as there will be checkpoints limiting movement. The main factors considered by the 17 mayors are the health and economic effects.
Recently, MMC Chairman and Parañaque City Mayor Edwin Olivarez said they are inclined to suggest the 15-day of the ECQ to IATF.
The MMC, comprise of the 17 Metro Manila mayors and different national agencies, is the governing and policy-making body of the MMDA.