NCR, Other Areas Under GCQ; Fate Of Cebu And Mandaue Cities Unclear; Rest Of Country Under MGCQ
President Duterte announced on Thursday evening, May 28, that the National Capital Region , Region 2, Region 3, Region 4-A (Calabarzon), Albay, Pangasinan and Davao City will be placed under general community quarantine (GCQ) starting June 1 “until we have reviewed the general situation” amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
NCR or Metro Manila, Laguna (which is part of Region 4-A), Region 3 (Bataan, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Zambales, Pampanga, Angeles City except Aurora) have been under modified enhanced community quarantine or MECQ since May 15.
The fate of Mandaue and Cebu cities, which are still under enhanced community quarantine, was not discussed.
Albay, Pangasinan and Davao City have been under GCQ. Based on the President’s pronouncement, they will not be among the areas that will shift to modified GCQ or MGCQ like the rest of the country.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque is expected to discuss the fate of areas needing clarification on quarantine classifications on Friday, May 29.
“We are not happy to put you in this place,” the President said, adding the decision was reached in line with the recommendation of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of the Emerging Infectious Diseases.
“We are not happy to put you in this place,” the President told the nation in a televised address.
Duterte announced his decision after hours of meeting with the IATF. “We are doing this because the interest of the nation calls for it, demands for it,” he said.
“In other areas, it will be, again, on a piecemeal basis depending on the viability of the place to meet the challenges of COVID. But from time to time, Secretary Roque will give us the places where there will be changes,” Duterte said.
Duterte reminded people to continue wearing masks to protect themselves and avoid infecting others.
“The state has every right to control your movement to prevent you from passing on the contagion to other places,” he noted. “For you to pass the virus, if you get it from one place and pass it to another guy, that is different. That is where the right of the state comes in.”
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said COVID-19 cases are still increasing in the country but the government’s capacity to handle them has improved.
Earlier on Thursday, Roque said NCR is ready for the transition to GCQ judging from current data.
Also prior to the President’s announcement, the Department of the Interior and Local Government said employees going back to work will not be required to obtain travel authority and should be allowed through checkpoints with only their company IDs under GCQ.
DILG Secretary Eduardo Año said employees returning to work in industries that have been allowed to resume operations by the IATF are already considered authorized persons outside residence or APOR.
“Kung kayo po ay papasok sa trabaho, ipakita niyo lang ang inyong company ID o anumang dokumento na nagpapatunay na kayo ay nagtatrabaho sa isang industriyang pinapahintulutan ng IATF na mag-operate,” he said in a statement.
Año clarified that travel authority will only be needed by locally stranded individuals or returning overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who want to return to their provinces despite the community quarantine.
Stranded individuals need to secure a medical certificate from their respective local government units (LGUs) before applying for the travel authority from the city or municipal, or the regional police office.
For returning OFWs, they need to be tested for COVID-19 and a negative result means they no longer need to be quarantine in the LGU of their destination.
Jeepneys still not allowed
Around 65,000 jeepneys will still not be allowed to operate despite the shift to a more lenient GCQ in Metro Manila next week, the DILG chief also said.
Año said other forms of mass transportation would be opened but traditional jeepneys will not be able to resume operations because it will be difficult to enforce physical distancing.
During normal times, there are an estimated three million commuters who use public utility jeepneys in Metro Manila.
The secretary said that traditional jeepneys could be limited to operating as delivery vehicles.
Modern jeepneys will be allowed to operate by the Department of Transportation but on a limited capacity.
Jeepney groups have appealed to the government to allow the jeepneys in Metro Manila to resume operations. There are more than 180,000 jeepney units nationwide and some have been allowed to ply the roads in the provinces.
Obet Martin, President of Pasang Masda, said that jeepney drivers have been among the hardest hit by the lockdown as public transportation have been stalled for over two months and only a few have received their emergency cash subsidy under the Social Amelioration Program (SAP).
“Hirap na hirap na ang mga driver. Ang daming driver na namamalimos na for two months . Ang SAP malaking bagay pero until now (konting konti) ang nakatanggap,” he said in a phone interview.
Martin said their drivers and operators are willing to comply with safety requirements, such as putting protective barriers and limiting passengers even if this means lower income for already struggling drivers.
He added that they are not seeking a fare increase and are looking at contactless payments to ensure health standards are being followed.
The government is also advocating the use of bicycles as a mode of transportation as more employees troop back to work.
No more quarantine passes
People authorized to leave their homes are no longer required to carry a quarantine pass once Metro Manila transitions to GCQ.
Lt. Gen. Guillermo Lorenzo Eleazar, Philippine National Police (PNP) deputy chief for operations, said it is impractical for them to ask every individual on the streets for a quarantine pass when some restrictions are lifted.
Aside from frontliners, workers of businesses that will resume operations and those who need to avail of essential goods and services are among those exempted from having a quarantine pass.
Senior citizens who have to work and in need of medical attention are allowed for as long as they will present identification cards and proof they need to undergo a checkup.
Those who are below 21 years old but are employed may also be allowed, Eleazar said. – Source: Romina Cabrera, Emmanuel Tupas / onenews.ph