COVID campaign to focus more on granular lockdowns; IATF eyes policy shift

Published August 26, 2021, 2:22 PM

by Argyll Cyrus Geducos

Malacañang said the government’s pandemic task force was now “moving towards” the direction of granular or localized lockdowns as these were more effective compared to the regular quarantine classifications that the public has grown accustomed to.

Members of the Philippine National Police man a checkpoint in a barangay in Sampaloc, Manila after it was placed under lockdown on March 17, 2021. (Ali Vicoy/MANILA BULLETIN)

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque made the statement after Interior Undersecretary Epimaco Densing said that the country might now do away with the regional or province-wide lockdowns to better address the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

In his press briefing on Thursday, August, 26, Roque agreed that granular lockdowns were more effective than the community quarantine classifications that the Inter-agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases have been implementing since March last year.

“Sa mula’t mula po (From the very beginning), the science supports, and experience supports the view, na mas epektibo po talaga ang localized and granular lockdowns (that localized and granular lockdowns are more effective),” he said.

The Palace official added that the looming “policy shift” was already approved in principle and that the public should just wait for the announcement of the IATF.

“We are moving towards the direciton dahil ang LGUs (local government units) naman talaga ang nakakaalam kung saan yung mga areas, eh papunta tayo doon. Pero wala pa pong detalye (We are moving towards the direction because it’s really the LGUs that have the knowledge of these areas. But there are no details yet),” Roque said.

“It’s a principle that has been approved as a principle pero ang details, hindi pa po na-approve (but the details have not been approved yet),” he added.

Meanwhile, Roque said the IATF had a scheduled meeting on August 26 and one of the agenda was the quarantine classifications for the month of September.

Last week, Roque disclosed that experts thought that a different tactic in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic was already necessary since the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) risk classification seemed to be no longer working.

He said this after he revealed that the IATF was not able to reach a “decision of the house” in deciding whether to keep Metro Manila under ECQ or downgrade it to the modified ECQ (MECQ).

“Lumalabas na parang hindi na gumagana ang ECQ sa ating mga kababayan siguro dahil pagod na pagod na sila (It appeared that the ECQ was not working anymore for the people maybe because they were tired already),” Roque said in his radio interview.

“Magugulat ka mga dalubhasa nagsabi na iyon nga po ang posisyon nila na mukhang hindi na gumagana ang ECQ for whatever reason dahil nga naman halos magdadalawang taon na tayo, siguro dapat baguhin ang taktika ‘no (You’ll be surprised that it was the experts who said ECQ was not working anymore for whatever reason because we’ve been doing this for two years and maybe its time to change tactics),” he added.