Duterte to announce new quarantine status in PH on Aug. 17

MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte is expected to announce the new classifications of community quarantine in the country on August 17, Malacañang said on Thursday.

Duterte would deliver a public address on Monday to present the new quarantine rules nationwide starting August 18, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a virtual press conference.

“Inaasahan po natin na magme-mensahe sa taumbayan muli ang ating Presidente sa August 17 kung saan ia-anunsiyo rin niya kung ano ‘yung mga bagong classification (We expect the President to deliver a message to the public on August 17 to announce the new [quarantine] classifications),” Roque said.

On July 30, Duterte downgraded the quarantine status in Cebu City to a less restrictive general community quarantine (GCQ) from the stricter modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ).

Aside from Cebu City, Duterte also initially implemented GCQ in Metro Manila and the provinces of Bulacan, Batangas, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal from August 1 to 15.

GCQ was also imposed in Talisay City, Minglanilla, and Consolacion in Cebu province.

However, Metro Manila and the provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal were eventually placed under MECQ from August 4 to 18 following the appeal of medical front-liners to avoid the collapse of the country’s health care system amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.

Modified GCQ (MGCQ), the least restrictive community quarantine, was implemented in the rest of the country until August 15.

Roque said the current quarantine classifications in all parts of the country, except in areas under MECQ, are set to lapse on August 15.

“Meron na pong rekomendasyon (There is already a recommendation) for all other areas, except for Metro Manila and four provinces under MECQ. So I think it is without prejudice na hanggang 15 lang ‘yung (that quarantine classifications will end on August 15 in) all other areas other than Metro Manila and the four provinces,” he said.

MGCQ in Metro Manila a ‘remote possibility’

Roque reiterated that it would be “highly unlikely” for Duterte to extend the MECQ status in Metro Manila and its nearby provinces, unless the proposed Bayanihan to Recover as One Act (Bayanihan 2) contains a provision that would grant cash aid to poor families who have to bear the brunt of the implementation of stricter quarantine measures.

He said there was a “remote possibility” that Metro Manila might be under MGCQ, considering that there will be 250 additional beds for Covid-19 patients at the East Avenue Medical Center in Quezon City by August 17.

“It’s a remote possibility,” Roque said. “Baka meron pang possibility na mag-MGCQ na dahil napakalaki na ng critical care capacity ng Metro Manila with additional 250-bed capacity (Perhaps, there is a possibility that Metro Manila might be under MGCQ because of its improved critical care capacity, with (an) additional 250-bed capacity.”

He, however, clarified that he was merely “speculating”, adding that the final recommendation would still come from the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID), subject to Duterte’s approval.

“Let me correct. I was just speculating. It’s a decision of the IATF,” Roque said.  Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos / PNA – northboundasia.com