Duterte won’t extend MECQ

Published August 11, 2020, 12:51 AM

by Argyll Cyrus Geducos and Genalyn Kabiling

Cites depleted gov’t funds, need for people to work

President Duterte is cautious about extending the Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ) in Metro Manila and the four neighboring provinces of Bulacan, Rizal, Cavite, and Laguna due to the lack of funds to help those whose movements are limited by the lockdown. 

President Rodrigo Roa 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 Presidential Guest House in Panacan, Davao City on August 10, 2020. (ARMAN BAYLON/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO)

Duterte issued the statement following suggestions from various personalities about extending the MECQ after August 18. 

In his late-night public address on Monday, President Duterte said he cannot give in to the request of the medical community for a longer lockdown because the funds granted by Congress to the Executive are already depleted. 

“I’m telling the doctors, much as I would want, really, to give in to your demands, especially in the matter of lockdown. I want it because I do not want the contamination to continue. It’s a continuing thing,” he said. 

“The problem is the funds are already depleted. Kailangan nating magtrabaho yung iba (We need the people to work),” he added. Despite the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the country, the people need to go out now to work in order to put food on their tables, Duterte said. 

“If it’s food for your family, medyo tatanggapin ko ‘yan kasi hindi ko na kayo mapakain lahat, eh (If the reason for going out is food for your family, I’ll accept that because I cannot feed all of you anymore),” he said. “Kung meron lang ako pangbigay, ibibigay ko sa inyo araw-araw para mabubuhay kayo (If only I have funds, I’ll give it to you so you’ll have something to get by),” he added. 

Follow the rules

 The President asked the public anew to cooperate with the government and follow the strict quarantine and health measures in order to prevent the transmission of COVID-19. He said he will be forced to use the military if the number of COVID19 cases will continue to rise because people are not following the quarantine rules. 

“But pag hindi talaga madala (If I cannot get you with words), and it’s a runaway contagion, mapipilitan ako maggamit ng military kasi talagang kulang ang pulis (I will be forced to use the military because the police cannot do it alone),” Duterte said. 

“Kung nandiyan ang (If we have the) military to force you to obey the community lockdown, sumunod kayo dahil para sa inyo ‘yan (obey because this is for your own good),” he added. 

“Tignan niyo ngayon, sige kayo labas nang labas, ‘di dumami yung contamination (Now, see. The contamination is greater because you keep on going outside),” he continued. 

President Duterte said he believes that the Philippines will overcome the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Military deployment

 The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) may be deployed to enforce quarantine measures in the event of a “runaway contagion” in the country, President Duterte said Monday night. 

As the cases of coronavirus continued to rise, the President said the military could augment the police force which he claimed “cannot be everywhere and anywhere all the time.” 

“The military is not part of the governance yet in the matter of using force or at least intimidating you with soldiers. Far from it. We do not have that plan,” Duterte said in his televised address Monday night. 

“Kapag hindi talaga madala and it’s a runaway contagion, mapipilitan ako maggamit ng military kasi talagang kulang ang pulis (If it cannot be addressed and it’s a runaway contagion, I will be forced to use the military because the police won’t be enough),” he said. 

On Monday, the Philippines recorded its single biggest surge in coronavirus cases with 6,958 new infections that pushed the total to 136,638. 

The country’s death toll has reached 2,293. 

Senator Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa on Tuesday said he supports President Duterte’s plan to tap the police and military to strictly enforce quarantine rules to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). 

Dela Rosa said state forces are “well-organized” and “better equipped” to carry out the government’s quarantine protocols against COVID-19. 

Extend MECQ

 The government should extend the Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ) in Metro Manila and nearby provinces to slow down the increase in the number of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases, urged Dr. Tony Leachon, former adviser to the National Task Force (NTF) fighting the COVID-19. 

“An extension of two weeks will be effective,” he said during an interview with CNN Philippines on Tuesday. He pointed out that “in the last five to seven days, we saw some downward trend.” 

“But I don’t think it will be sustained if there will be mobility,” he said. 

He added that returning to general community quarantine (GCQ) the areas under MECQ will increase the mobility of the public and the spread of COVID-19. (With Hannah L. Torregoza and Jeffrey G. Damicog)