Metro Manila or the National Capital Region (NCR) will remain under General Community Quarantine (GCQ) for the month of December, President Duterte announced Monday night amid fresh appeals to observe health standards to curb the spread of the new coronavirus disease.
In a televised address, the President also placed seven other areas under GCQ from Dec. 1 to 31, namely:
- Iloilo City
- Tacloban City
- Lanao del Sur
- Iligan City
- Davao City
- Davao del Norte
The rest of the country will remain under Modified General Community Quarantine (MGCQ), the least restrictive of the government’s lockdown levels.
The country’s new classification status for December was approved by the President upon the recommendation of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF). Metro Manila mayors had earlier backed the extension of the GCQ in the capital region to avoid a spike in infections during the holiday season.
In his remarks, the President appealed to the public to continue to comply with health protocols such as wearing of masks, frequent washing of hands, and safe physical distancing to prevent a sudden surge in infections in the country.
Duterte lamented that some people don’t wear masks and keep distance from other people, calling them “matigas ang ulo” stubborn.
“Let me remind you that Europe and America are experiencing what they would call some say a third wave na pagbalik. Mas maraming magkasakit ngayon at mamatay. This is a country that is rich na dapat may bakuna na can afford it and yet maraming nagkakasakit, namatay (Let me remind you that Europe and America area experiencing what they would call, some say a third wave. More people will get sick and die. This is a rich country that can afford vaccines and yet many people still get sick and die),” he said.
To groups criticizing the increase in the country’s coronavirus cases, Duterte explained that the government has reopened the economy to allow people to go back to work. He admitted that if people won’t be allowed to get livelihood, they might endure hunger.
“Bakit mapigilan mo? Mapigilan ng gobyerno? Mapakain ba ng gobyerno ang lahat? ‘Yan ang storya diyan (Can you stop them? Can the government stop them? Can the government feed everyone? That’s the story there),” he said.
“Kung hindi sila maglabas ng bahay, can you sustain their lives while inside the house? Nobody is buying food. Hindi nakikita. Walang trabaho, wala lahat. Kaya napipilitan na lumabas. It’s between hunger and the spectacle of [COVID] (If they don’t go out of the house, can you sustain their lives inside the house? Nobody is buying food. No work, nothing. That’s why they are compiled to go out. It’s between hunger and the spectacle of COVID),” he said.
If people need to leave their homes for work, the President urged them to take precautions such as wearing masks and shields to prevent contracting the illness. He said these health measures must be observed as the world awaits for the development of a vaccine.
As of Nov. 30, the country’s cases of coronavirus have reached 431,630.
The government has gradually relaxed the strict lockdown measures in a bid to stimulate business activity and employment. More businesses and modes of public transportation have been allowed to operate while travel restrictions have been eased as part of the government’s economic recovery efforts.