MANILA — The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) has agreed to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA)’s proposal to place the whole country under a less restrictive modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) classification but Malacañan said the matter remains at President Rodrigo Duterte’s discretion pending meeting with his Cabinet and local health experts as well as local chief executives.
According to presidential spokesperson Atty. Harry Roque, the IATF and Metro Mayors Council have already agreed on shifting the country to MGCQ and this is based on findings that any further decision to prolong the imposition of quarantine restrictions will hurt businesses and livelihood further across the archipelago.
“Nagkasundo na sila sa rekomendasyon sa ating presidente na magkaroon na ng MGCQ sa buong Pilipinas at sang-ayon dito ang ating mga alkalde sa Metro Manila kaya tanging ang pag-apruba na lang ng ating pangulo ang hinihintay,” Roque explains in a television interview.
“So inaasahan naman natin dahil mayroon nang ganitong kasunduan sa panig ng IATF at Metro Manila mayors ay baka naman po sumang-ayon na ang Presidente,” he added.
He says that the chief executive will give his decision on Monday, 22 February, and this could only be made final by the end of the month because continuous monitoring will be conducted to ensure that the easing up of restrictions and quarantine protocols would not trigger a spike in the number of Covid-19 cases because of complacency among the citizenry.
Prior to the proposal of placing the whole country under MGCQ, the University of the Philippines OCTA Research Group (UP-OCTA) had advised the Government that it should first begin with the much-awaited Covid-19 vaccine rollout before further relaxing the quarantine and minimum health safety restrictions in Metro Manila.
OCTA’s Dr. Guido David stressed that Metro Manila should not risk a surge in Covid-19 cases while the Government awaits rolling out the expected vaccines because this could delay and scuttle the successful implementation of the Government’s vaccination program.
“For Metro Manila, I think it’s too early to risk an MGCQ (modified general community quarantine) at this stage. Lalo na, the vaccine rollout is about to happen. So unahin muna natin ang vaccine rollout,” Guido stressed.
“We understand iyong economic reasons but the economy will recover more quickly once we’ve started vaccinating more people and that’s why it’s important for us to have this rollout program in place. It’s also important na wala tayong surge na nangyayari. We can’t risk a surge while we’re rolling out the vaccines kasi it will delay the process of vaccination,” he warned. (BG/Headline PH)