'Not yet out of the woods': MMDA chief justifies retention of curfew despite MECQ shift

Published August 23, 2021, 3:16 PM

by Betheena Unite

We’re not yet out of the woods.

File photo (Maria Tan/AFP)

Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Benhur Abalos gave this explanation Monday, August 23, as he justified the retention of the eight-hour curfew in Metro Manila despite the downgrade of restrictions to modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ).

“Metro mayors agreed to maintain the curfew until the end of the month because cases are still rising and our ICU (intensive care unit) and bed utilizations haven’t gone down although the reproduction rate decreased from 1.90 to 1.67. We’re not yet out of the woods,” Abalos said in a mix of Filipino and English during a televised briefing.

An 8 p.m. to 4 a.m. curfew is enforced in Metro Manila since it was placed under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) from Aug. 6 to 20.

After the quarantine status lapsed, Metro Manila eased to MECQ although some restrictions were retained including the curfew hours.

“Iba na po ‘yung maagap na po tayo, ‘yung pinapangunahan na natin. Huwag tayo masyadong magpakampante kaya mas minabuti na lang ng mga alkalde ng kalakhang Maynila na i-retain muna ang curfew hanggang sa katapusan (It’s better to be proactive and be a step ahead. Let’s not be complacent. This is why Metro Manila mayors opted to retain the curfew until month end),” Abalos said.

The MMDA chief is also hopeful that the entire region will revert back to general community quarantine (GCQ) soon.

“We really hope so, although the data right now are very encouraging but it does not mean we’re out of the woods. We must remember the character of this Delta variant. It is so contagious that’s why we’re always thinking conservatively,” he said.

“So hopefully while doing all of these things we are still vaccinating and vaccinating, so at the end of the month we could reach 50 percent and hopefully huwag na tayo umabot ng November. Sana by October pa lang o even by September protektado na ang buong Metro Manila (we don’t go further to November. I hope by October or September, the whole Metro Manila is already protected),” he added.