Malacañang raised the possibility of Metro Manila reverting to the stricter Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ) status from the General Community Quarantine (GCQ) if the country will meet the projection of the University of the Philippines (UP) of 85,000 cases by the end of the month.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque made the statement after the Philippines recorded 70,764 cases as of Tuesday afternoon.
In an interview with CNN Philippines, Roque said the National Capital Region (NCR) going back to MECQ is a dreaded possibility.
“That’s a distinct possibility although it’s a possibility that I wish will not happen,” he said Wednesday morning.
Roque reiterated that the Philippines had no choice but to reopen the economy because it can no longer afford to be shut down even though there was a need to keep everyone safe from COVID-19.
“While we have to contain the disease, we also need to restart our livelihoods. We’ve gone to a very crucial point where I think the economy could no longer afford to be shut down,” he said.
President Duterte had originally approved the recommendation of UP to place Metro Manila under MECQ from July 16 to 31 but National Task Force Carlito Galvez and Interior Secretary Eduardo Año appealed the decision of the President.
Metro Manila mayors were instead given a two-week grace period to prove that they had the situation under control.
Filipinos not stubborn
Roque expressed confidence that Filipinos will cooperate with the government and follow the minimum health guidelines especially after a study showed that 91 percent of Filipinos always wear masks when they leave the house.
Roque was referring to the study by British think tank YouGov, in partnership with the Institute of Global Health Innovation at Imperial College London, which showed the Philippines was second among 29 countries and territories in terms of mask-wearing.
“I’m confident that Filipinos will actually cooperate to an even greater degree than they have shown,” he said.
“It shows Filipinos cooperate when they have to and I think the message has been well-received by Filipinos that we need to really take care of our health so we can proceed and pursue our livelihood anew,” he added.
Roque also agreed that the study on mask-wearing showed that Filipinos are not stubborn when it comes to following health guidelines.
He renewed the government’s appeal to mild asymptomatic cases to voluntarily submit themselves to undergo quarantine in government facilities under Oplan Kalinga.
“I personally believe that one of the things that will change the situation now is the asymptomatics and the mild ones will voluntarily quarantine themselves in government facilities,” he said.