Metro mayors want stricter protocols vs Delta variant; say they're 'ready' for ECQ as long as there's SAP–Abalos

Published July 29, 2021, 12:21 AM

by Ellson Quismorio

The mayors of the National Capital Region (NCR) or Metro Manila will ask the government’s pandemic task for the imposition of “stricter quarantine measues” amid the threat posed by the more dangerous Delta variant of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

MMDA Chairman Benhur Abalos (Ali Vicoy/ File photo/ MANILA BULLETIN)

Thus, bared Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Benhur Abalos in a statement late Wednesday night, July 28, following a high-stakes meeting earlier that day with the local chief executives. Health experts also took part in the meeting.

Moreover, Abalos said that the Metro mayors would be willing to temporarily subject their jurisdictions under an enhanced community quarantine (ECQ)–the strictest lockdown level–for as long as the national government can provide another round of Social Amelioration Program (SAP) aid to their constituents.

“Imposition of stricter quarantine measures will be requested by the Metro Manila mayors to the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF),” the MMDA chief said.

“However, if the national government has available funds for the Social Amelioration Program (SAP), Metro Manila mayors expressed NCR’s readiness to be classified under enhanced community quarantine for a period of two weeks,” he said.

“Needless to say, SAP is important to address the concerns of underprivileged families as they will be the ones who will be greatly affected by the ECQ declaration,” Abalos underscored.

On Wednesday morning, Abalos bared that “four to five LGUs” in the metropolis have already been implementing “circuit-breaker” lockdowns. The meeting then reportedly took place at 1:30 p.m.

Abalos also said that it had been “further agreed by the mayors that the imposition of stricter measures must be coupled with the allocation of at least four million vaccines for NCR which they commit to be administered during the two-week period.”

“To achieve this, the Mayors request to open the vaccination to the general population without classification,” he added.

“Aggressive contact tracing, massive testing, and strict isolation would then be ramped up to further reduce COVID-19 cases in Metro Manila while waiting for the requested four million vaccines from the national government to achieve population protection as early as possible and prevent exponential growth of positive cases from Delta variant,” said Abalos, who is himself a former Metro mayor.

He said the NCR mayors also vowed to meet daily to assess the situation in their respective localities, discuss further course of actions against the Delta threat and recommend collectively to the national government, through IATF, relevant quarantine restrictions and measures.

He said they will also conduct intensified monitoring of their constituents’ compliance to basic health protocols.

“We appeal to the public to avoid complacency and still follow the standard health protocols. Let us not put our guards down,” Abalos said.