Most Metro Manila mayors still want GCQ in NCR — Año

Majority of Metro Manila mayors are still in favor of maintaining the General Community Quarantine (GCQ) status for the National Capital Region (NCR), Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año said on Friday.

In this photo taken on September 8, 2020, women wearing face shields walk along a road in Manila. (Photo by Ted ALJIBE / AFP / MANILA BULLETIN)

The final decision on this will be made after Año's scheduled meeting with the Metro Manila mayors on September 27.

The meeting will tackle whether or not the GCQ will be maintained or recommend the placing of Metro Manila under the more relaxed Modified GCQ (MGCQ).

“A lot of the mayors in NCR still want the GCQ but it will still depend on the meeting on Sunday, September 27,” said Año, who is also the vice chairman of the National Task Force on COVID-19.

The Metro Manila Council (MMC) is expected to come up with its recommendation to President Duterte through the NTF on COVID-19.

“Whatever the recommendation, we will compare it with data analytics. It is after the comparison that a final recommendation is expected to be submitted,” said Año.

In coming up with the recommendation, Año said the main consideration that will be factored in is the safety of Metro Manila residents from the coronavirus infection.

Last Wednesday, National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19 chief implementer Carlito Galvez Jr. said the third phase of the National Action Plan (NAP) is now being crafted and it will focus on bringing down further the new confirmed cases and deaths, and the easing of the quarantine status in Metro Manila to MGCQ.

Galvez said the NAP Phase 3 will be effective from October to December, 2020, where a number of holidays will be celebrated beginning with the All Saints' and All Souls' Day in November up to the Christmas season in December.

Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship and Go Negosyo founder Joey Concepcion had earlier proposed placing Metro Manila under MGCQ, a move supported by various business groups.

Despite earlier statements that the Philippines has flattened the curve on COVID-19, the number of infected persons per day as released by the Department of Health remains high.

Metro Manila is considered as the epicenter of the COVID-19 infection.

“It is really difficult to decide. We may implement the MGCQ but then the infection cases will go high,” said Año.

But he said the current infection situation leaves them with no choice but to implement either a stricter MGCQ or a relaxed GCQ.

“It will be better that Metro Manila is still under GCQ rather than declare a MGCQ but with a stricter quarantine protocol implementation. But this will be discussed on Sunday and we will immediately announce it,” said Año.

President Duterte will make the final decision on any recommendation to be given by the MMC.