Mayors Eye Extension of ECQ in Metro Manila

It's to prevent a second wave of COVID-19 infections.
Photo/s: Jerome Ascaño

The Metro Manila Council is looking to recommend another 15-day extension of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in the National Capital Region (NCR) amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Parañaque Mayor Edwin Olivarez, the council’s chairman, said in a May 5 Unang Balita interview that the council may turn the recommendation into a formal resolution during the group’s online meeting on Saturday.

"Most likely ‘yon ang tinitignan natin, ‘yong magkaroon ng another 15 days extension," Olivarez said. This may be necessary to avert a second wave of COVID-19 infections, he said.

He added that the council favors a metro-wide extension as Metro Manila cities and municipalities are "very interconnected." Residents living in one city usually work in another one. Should some cities shift to general community quarantine (GCQ), it will be difficult for citizens in ECQ areas to move back and forth.

"Tulad sa amin sa Parañaque, meron kaming mga residente na nagtatrabaho sa Makati. Kung ang Makati ay GCQ, kami ay ECQ, pano sila makakalagpas papunta dun sa boundary namin?" Olivarez said.

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Although the council can recommend an extension, Olivarez said the decision falls in the hands of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID).

"Ang nagdi-decide ay IATF. Ang Metro Manila Council ay recommendatory lang po," he said.

The Saturday meeting will be held so that all the Metro Manila mayors will have "one stand" on the matter, said Olivarez. 

In a report on the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Olivarez said that the ECQ might be extended to June 15 to curb the spread of the respiratory disease.

The Metro Manila Council is composed of the executives of the 17 Metro Manila cities and municipality. The council serves as the governing board of the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA).

MMDA Chairman Danilo Lim will also be present during the virtual meeting.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the government would take the recommendation into consideration.

"Titingnan po natin 'yan kasi sabi ko nga po, nakabase 'yan sa siyensya, nakabase 'yan sa pagbilis ng pagkalat ng sakit at 'yung kapasidad na magbigay ng critical care," Roque said in an Unang Hirit interview.

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"May mga lugar po talaga na pwede nang mag-GCQ dahil kinakailangan na rin naman nating buksan ang ekonomiya," he added. 

On May 7, Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año said that certain cities in Metro Manila could shift to GCQ, as the situation seems to be improving. "There are areas already in Metro Manila that are actually improving like San Juan and Valenzuela but Quezon City is still really what we call a very high-risk area with the 1,000 positive," he said in an interview on ANC.

However, Año said data and analytics would ultimately help decide if an extension is needed and if some cities can shift to GCQ. "Some cities in Metro Manila may be downgraded into GCQ but we still have eight days to go so we wait for data analytics," he said.

ECQ was first declared in Luzon on March 17. It would only last until April 14, but the Metro Manila ECQ got extended to April 30, and again until May 15.

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