NCR ‘likely’ to return to GCQ — Olivarez

Published August 13, 2020, 11:38 AM

by Gabriela Baron & Jhon Aldrin Casinas

Metro Manila Council (MMC) chairman and Parañaque mayor Edwin Olivarez said the National Capital Region (NCR) is “likely” to return to general community quarantine (GCQ) status if the number of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases continues to decrease.

A jeepney driver washes the inside of his jeep as he prepares for his return to operation at Paco, Manila (JANSEN ROMERO / MANILA BULLETIN FILE)

While there are still a few days to go before the end of the two-week modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) period, the mayor noted that it is still early to say if Metro Manila will return to GCQ after Aug. 18.

“Kung mag tuloy-tuloy ‘yung trend natin mula noong Aug. 4, most probably magdyi-GCQ na po tayo (If our trend from Aug. 4 continues, most probably we will return to GCQ),” Olivarez said in an interview over GMA Network’s Unang Balita on  Thursday (Aug. 13).

President Duterte placed Metro Manila and four neighboring provinces under MECQ from Aug. 4 to Aug. 18, following the recent spike in the number of COVID-19 cases after quarantine restrictions were relaxed from MECQ to GCQ in June.

Olivarez said the implementation of MECQ has been effective in the region.

“Doon sa MECQ, na-control natin yung mobilization ng tao, yung paglabas ng tao. Pina-implement natin ‘yung home quarantine pass, pati yung APOR (authorized persons outside residence) lang ang pinapayagang lumabas sa tahanan (Under MECQ, we were able to control the mobilization of people, their going out of their homes. We implemented the home quarantine pass, and allowed only APORs to leave their homes),” Olivarez noted.

He also cited the decrease in the number of active COVID-19 cases in Parañaque City, from 876 on Aug. 4 to 651 on Wednesday (Aug. 13), nine days after NCR reverted to the second strictest form of lockdown.

On Monday, Defense chief and National Task Force on COVID-19 (NTF) chairman Delfin Lorenzana said the NCR may be reverted to GCQ after Aug. 18 to allow more people to return to work, adding that the number of COVID-19 cases in the metropolis has decreased. 

In a late-night address to the nation last Monday, President Duterte said he was hesitant to extend the MECQ period, saying the government lacks the funds to further support the people.

Meanwhile, Olivarez said the Department of Health still has to present to them the latest data on COVID-19 in the metropolis so that Metro mayors can create a data-driven recommendation to the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF).

The MMC, composed of the 17 mayors in NCR, is the governing and policy-making body of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA).

To further support local government units in their response against COVID-19, IATF members have been assigned to local government units with areas determined to have high community transmission, including Metro Manila and four nearby provinces.

Olivarez said Sec. Carlito Galvez Jr., chief implementer of the Philippines’ Declared National Policy Against COVID-19, who is assigned to Parañaque, visited the city recently and conducted an assessment of the city’s strategies against COVID-19.

“‘Yun pong coordination namin sa national government magiging mas madali kasi may particular na secretary in charge in our city (Our coordination with the national government will be easier because there is a particular secretary in charge in our city),” he said.