President Rodrigo Duterte has rejected the recommendation of his economic managers for a nationwide shift to the more relaxed modified general community quarantine or MGCQ without vaccines being rolled out, Malacañang said Monday.
The President gave his decision, which was initially announced by his former aide Sen. Bong Go, during a Cabinet meeting.
"President RodrigoDuterte gave his directive to the Cabinet that the Philippines would not be placed under Modified General Community Quarantine (MGCQ) unless there is a rollout of vaccines," Duterte's spokesperson Harry Roque said.
"The Chief Executive recognizes the importance of re-opening the economy and its impact on people's livelihoods. However, the President gives higher premium to public health and safety," he added.
According to Go, the President said easing of quarantines at present would not serve the "best interest of the country" and the Philippines should start its COVID-19 vaccination program first.
The National Economic Development Authority earlier recommended a nationwide shift to MGCQ by March, highlighting the need to address rising hunger and poverty due to quarantine limitations.
Acting Socioeconomic Planning Sec. Karl Chua had said that as much as 95% of the economy could operate with a nationwide MGCQ.
But the Philippines has been facing delays in the rollout of its mass COVID-19 immunization program which Health Sec. Francisco Duque III on Monday blamed on global supply shortage.