A two-week enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) is what the Metro Manila mayors want as a response to the Delta variant threat, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Benhur Abalos stressed in a virtual press briefing Thursday, July 29.
“Lahat nakapirma, lahat kami (All of us signed it),” Abalos said while holding a resolution signed by himself and the 17 Metro mayors that are part of the Metro Manila Council or MMC.
The resolution was the product of an emergency meeting between Abalos and local chief executives Wednesday, July 28 wherein they practically endorsed the reimposition of an ECQ–the strictest lockdown possible–over the National Capital Region (NCR).
“ECQ talaga, ‘yun ang decision namin. ECQ talaga ang gusto namin if the funds of the national government will allow it (ECQ is what we decided on. ECQ is what we really want if the funds of the national government allow it),” he said.
Abalos said in statement late Wednesday night that the NCR mayors were ready for a two-week ECQ for as long as the national government can provide aid via the Social Amelioration Program (SAP). This is essential since the ECQ would severely hamper NCR residents’ ability to work.
The MMDA chief said the mayors further suggested that ramped up vaccinations must be conducted during the proposed two-week ECQ.
During President Duterte’s pre-recorded public briefing late Wednesday night, the chief executive approved the imposition of a general community quarantine (GCQ) with heightened restrictions in NCR until August 15. Obviously, this isn’t as stringent as an ECQ.
“Kung hindi kaya (If SAP is not possible), we are proposing several restrictions…lagyan mo pa ng restrictions [yung GCQ with heightened restrictions] (let’s add more restrictions to the GCQ with heightened restrictions),” Abalos said.
He said he will meet with the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) at 2 p.m. Thursday to discuss the possible additional restrictions.
He said they would “brainstorm” during the meeting, although he mentioned that reviewing the capacities of establishments like restaurants would be important.
Abalos began the Thursday press briefing by saying that coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases in several areas in the metropolis have doubled or even tripled in the past few days. He didn’t specify these places.
He reiterated that the proper mindset should be to treat these cases as all due to the Delta variant, which he said was 60 percent more transmissible than the other variants of COVID-19.
“Ideal is magkaroon ng ECQ for two weeks (The ideal is to have an ECQ for two weeks),” said Abalos, who is himself a COVID-19 survivor.
According to him, the basis for the GCQ with heightened restrictions was laid down last week.
“‘Yan po napag-usapan last week pa, kahapon [Wednesday] lang na-implement…Between those days, ang dami nang nangyari (We discussed that last week, it was only implemented yesterday…Between those days, a lot has happened already),” he said.
Abalos said he made a presentation about the mayors’ ECQ proposal during President Duterte’s public briefing on Zoom, but apparently none of it came through in the actual broadcast since he was accidently muted.