NCR mayors, medical experts back Duterte decision on GCQ status

Robie de Guzman   •   February 23, 2021   •   416

MANILA, Philippines – Mayors in the National Capital Region (NCR) give all out support to President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision to keep the region under general community quarantine (GCQ) classification unless the COVID-19 vaccination program has been rolled out, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) said Tuesday.

MMDA chairman Benhur Abalos said local chief executives in the NCR would ‘rally behind’ the president even if most of them have voted in favor of the proposal to put the region under modified GCQ in March to help revive the country’s economy.

“As what we have always emphasized, the Metro Manila mayors would always defer to the wisdom and judgement of the President,” Abalos said in a statement.

“We are one with him, and would exert all efforts and rally behind him in combating this COVID-19 pandemic,” he added.

The National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) earlier recommended the shift to MGCQ to reopen the economy that has been battered by the coronavirus pandemic.

In separate statements, NCR mayors welcomed Duterte’s decision on the matter as they vowed to implement stricter health protocols to curb the spread of the viral disease.

“I am grateful to President Rodrigo Duterte for declaring that Metro Manila remain under General Community Quarantine (GCQ) until the vaccines against COVID-19 are rolled out and made available to Filipinos,” San Juan City Mayor Francis Zamora said.

“We’ve already anticipated what to do, ramping up contact tracing, testing and early detection,” Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte said.

Medical experts from the Philippine Society for Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, for their part, said that the shift to MGCQ will only be possible if the public will religiously follow the minimum health protocols set by the government.

“Based on previous experience I know that we know that we are not good in self-regulation, is that gonna change once we move into MGCQ? I think that’s the question every Filipino should answer,” Dr. Kathryn Roa said.

“I know that lockdown is hard but I just feel like the minute that we try to relax the lockdown or the quarantine it will somehow translate to people thinking that everything is well and I think they will start not minding wearing the mask, not minding wearing the shield, the physical distancing,” Dr. Faith Villanue said.

They also urged the public not to squander the efforts being put in to fight the pandemic and to continue observing protocols to stop the spread of coronavirus. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Janice Ingente)

Metro Manila mayors to meet Sunday to discuss next quarantine status

Robie de Guzman   •   April 23, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Mayors in Metro Manila are set to meet on Sunday, April 25, to discuss their recommendation for the next quarantine status of the National Capital Region (NCR), Metro Manila Council (MMC) chairperson and Parañaque City Mayor Edwin Olivarez said.

In a radio interview on Friday, Olivarez said they would deliberate on their recommendation, as well as the COVID-19 situation in each local government unit (LGU) in the NCR with representatives from the Department of Health.

Metro Manila and four nearby provinces of Cavite, Bulacan, Laguna, and Rizal have been placed under modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) until April 30 due to the surge in COVID-19 cases.

Olivarez said their recommendation on whether to extend or lift the MECQ will be based on data from LGUs in the NCR.

The MMC chief assured they will evaluate the matter thoroughly as it involves 16 cities and one municipality in the region.

Duterte to skip April 24 ASEAN Leaders’ meeting in Jakarta – Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   April 22, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte will not be attending a summit of leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which will be held in Jakarta, Indonesia on April 24, Malacañang said Thursday.

“Ang president po, hindi personally mag-a-attend. But I’m sure that our Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) will be there,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a media briefing.

Roque did not say why Duterte would be skipping the meeting but the DFA said in a statement that the president “decided to remain in the country to attend to pressing domestic concerns in light of the surge of COVID-19 cases.”

“President Rodrigo Roa Duterte has designated Secretary of Foreign Affairs Teodoro L. Locsin, Jr. as his Special Envoy to the ASEAN Leaders’ Meeting to be held on 24 April 2021 at the ASEAN Secretariat in Jakarta, Indonesia,” the DFA said.

“The Philippines strongly supported the convening of the Meeting even without the full attendance of all ASEAN Leaders,” it added.

The department said the special leaders’ meeting will “address urgent matters in the region, including recovery efforts, the situation in Myanmar, ASEAN community building efforts, external relations, and regional and international issues.”

“The President, through Secretary Locsin, will convey the Philippines’ commitment to ASEAN’s collective efforts in addressing threats and challenges to peace and stability in the region,” the DFA said.

“Secretary Locsin will also express the Philippines’ strong support to the initiative of Brunei Darussalam and the Secretary-General of ASEAN to use their good offices, in accordance with the ASEAN Charter, to visit Myanmar and spearhead ASEAN’s response to the crisis in Myanmar,” it added.

Duterte won’t compromise on quarantine protocols for returning OFWs

Marje Pelayo   •   April 21, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte said he is not comfortable with relaxing quarantine and testing protocols for arriving overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

During Wednesday’s (April 21) public address, the President noted that less stringent measures could compromise the entire country as COVID-19 cases continue to surge.

“I’m not quite comfortable with the relaxation that’s being brought now,” he said.

“I am not ready for a compromise lalo na ngayon. ‘Yung ibang sakit siguro, pwede pa – iyong mga rabies. Pero ito, talagang … as I have said, dapo rito, dapo roon,” he added.

The meeting which included health experts was in response to the appeal of Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III for an immediate swab test on OFWs upon arrival and a shortening of the quarantine period or their stay in hotels or isolation facilities.

“Kaya nga po kami nakikiusap sana, na kung maaari, ay we go back to the original protocol noon na pagdating ng ating OFWs, swab kaagad sila,” Bello said.

The medical experts recommended a review of the testing protocol but insisted that the implementation of strict quarantine measures is still best to be strictly enforced at this time.

“The [Technical Advisory Group] had some preliminary discussions po regarding the current issue, and we were thinking that based on the data that we have right now, it’s a better option to review the testing protocol,” said DOH-TAG member Dr. Anna Ong-Lim.

“We recommend that it be done at a later time, but the critical intervention should really be that quarantine should be strictly enforced,” she concluded.

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