(July 1, 2020) – President Rodrigo Duterte has extended the quarantine protocols in the country’s two main cities until July 15, imposing a record four months restrictive measures, one of the longest in the world.
In a late Tuesday night national television address, Duterte said Cebu City in the central Philippines will remain under a strict enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) until July 15 while the general community quarantine (GCQ) stays in the capital region for the next two weeks.
The rest of the country will have more relaxed quarantine status as the cases of coronavirus infections in the country continue to spike reaching more than 37,500 as of the end of June.
The popular leader said residents in the capital region are no longer flouting the curbs but there are still hard-headed people in Cebu City who continue to violate quarantine measures.
“Ang Manila and the rest of the greater Manila area, medyo there was a substantial compliance,” he said. “I wouldn’t say that there were no violations, but not in the scale that I saw in other places.”
Duterte has repeated what he had earlier said after noting a surge in virus cases in the Visayas, particularly in Cebu City, that the problem was due to the failure of Cebu residents to observe the stringent measures.
He had to send ex-general Roy Cimatu, the environment secretary, to oversee the national government’s response in the central Visayan city.
Cimatu, a former armed forces chief, was sent to “do the critical thinking” and not for a takeover, he added.
In his directive, the other areas placed under GCQ are: the provinces of Benguet, Cavite, Rizal, Leyte, Southern Leyte, as well as the cities of Lapu-Lapu, Mandaue, Talisay, Minglanilla, Consolacion in the Cebu province and Ormoc in Leyte.
Narito ang bagong quarantine measures na ipatutupad sa bansa simula ngayong araw hanggang July 15, 2020. Nananatili sa ECQ ang Cebu City habang nasa GCQ pa rin ang Metro Manila.
Last month, lawmakers from the Eastern Visayas region had called on government to review its “Balik Probinsiya” and “Hatid Probinsiya” programs, which they blamed for the rise in cases on the island of Samar and Leyte.
The twin programs aim from Metro Manila the ferry stranded individuals, including overseas workers who had arrived from abroad, back to their homes in the provinces.
Duterte said more localized lockdowns will be imposed in other areas under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ).
There will be stricter enforcement of minimum health standards and scaling up health system capacities and isolation areas.
Images of stranded individuals at the country’s main airport in Manila had also caught the attention of Duterte. He told Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año to provide them food and accommodation, all which would be charged to him.
“I would like to remind General Año to gather all na naghihintay, walang matulugan, matirhan at andiyan sa labas ng NAIA,” he said. “You will be transported to a place. I will pay, you just bill me.”
The country’s coronavirus infections had more than doubled since the government’s decision to partially re-open the country after more than 100 days of lock down.
A total of 1,080 new cases were recorded by health officials on Tuesday, the second highest single day increase, bringing the total to 37,514.
Laboratories across the country have reported more than 46,000 people have tested positive for the deadly virus, an indication the health department’s backlog to validate the cases has risen close to 10,000 cases. (Christian de Lano Deiparine/MM)
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