President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday night declared a “community quarantine” or “lockdown” in Metro Manila after the Code Alert System for COVID-19 was raised from Code Red Sublevel 1 to Sublevel 2, due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) crisis in the country.
In his message to the public, which lasted for about an hour, Duterte explained that the “community quarantine” or “lockdown” will be imposed for those entering or exiting Metro Manila.
“For Manila, we don’t like to use (lockdown) because you are scared there’s lockdown. But there is a lockdown, there is no struggle of power here, no fight here, no war. It’s just a matter of protecting and defending you from COVID-19,” stressed Duterte.
Duterte further emphasized “it has nothing to do with the power of military, nor power of the police, nor my power.”
He said it is just an issue of “protecting public interest.”
He said a barangay-wide quarantine is advised when there are at least two positive COVID-19 cases belonging to different households in the same barangay.
He also clarified that “this not Martial Law.”
“This is nothing but to fight the virus and exact compliance,” Duterte said.
He said a municipality-wide quarantine is advised when there are at least two positive cases belonging to different barangays in the same municipality or city.
Duterte said, from March 15 to April 14, entry to and exit from Metro Manila, will be banned during this period. But within Metro Manila, residents and visitors are free to travel by land, Duterte explained.
Duterte, however, explained that exemptions will be made for certain conditions for those exiting and entering Metro Manila. However, these will still be finalized by the task force before details will be sent to the different local government units (LGUs) for their guidelines.
The recommendation of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) led by Health Secretary Francisco Duque III was reached after the Department of Health (DOH) recorded 52 confirmed cases for COVID-19 and the first Filipino fatality due to the disease.
At the start or his public address, Duterte exhorted the public not “to kill themselves with worry,” saying the government is doing everything possible amid the increasing number of COVID-19 declared “pandemic” by the World Health Organization.
“Do not panic. Do not stress yourself too much that you can no longer do what you wanted to do. You can still do them but with restrictions, with conditions due to crisis,” said Duterte.
According to Duterte, this crisis is very clear that COVID-19 is spreading all throughout, in several countries including the Philippines. Despite the absence of antidotes to fend off the virus, Duterte advised the public not be scared and nervous.
“There is no cure,” Duterte, however, warned.
Duterte also said local government units (LGUs) in other areas are advised to abide by the following guidelines in imposing localized community quarantine in their respective jurisdiction.
Duterte also said a province-wide quarantine is advised when there are at least two positive cases belonging to different municipalities, component cities or independent component cities in the same province.
LGUs, which have imposed community quarantine in their respective jurisdictions, upon the declaration of state of calamity, shall be allowed to access their Quick Response Fund.
The recommendation of the DOH Technical Advisory Group on imposing stringent social distancing measures in the National Capital Region (NCR) are adopted for 30 days from the issuance of the resolution.
The suspension of classes in all levels in Metro Manila was extended until April 12, 2020.
Classes in Metro Manila areas are suspended provided all students shall continue their educational requirements during the said period.
The LGUs, with the supervision of the Department of the Interior and a Local Government (DILG), shall also be responsible for implementing measures to ensure that students remain in their homes during the duration.
Mass gatherings, defined as planned or spontaneous events where the number of people attending could strain the planning and response resources of the community hosting the event, shall be prohibited.
Work in the executive branch shall be suspended during the said period, without prejudice to the formation of skeletal workforces of government agencies in order to maintain the unimpeded delivery of services to the public.
Provided, health and emergency frontline services shall continue in full operations. Provided, the legislative branch and the judiciary are encouraged to adopt the same policy.
Flexible work arrangements shall be encouraged in the private sector.
The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) shall issue guidelines to safeguard the welfare of workers. All manufacturing, retail, and service establishments are advised to remain in operation during the said period. Provided, that strict social distancing measures are required to be observed by their respective management.
Mass public transport such as Light Rail Transit (LRT), Metro Rail Transit (MRT) and Philippine National Railways (PNR) shall continue its operation. Provided, that the Department of Transportation (DOTr) shall issue guidelines social distancing in public transport.
Acknowledging that the COVID-19 has no cure as no medicine for it can be bought from drugstores and pharmacies, he told the public that a healthy body would fight the virus.
“If you are weak, make yourself healthier by whatever means—- foods, vitamins, most of all, try to obey the government suggesting and ordering what to do,” he said./Stacy Ang