No recommendations of ‘total lockdown’ in Luzon – Palace

It looks like a normal day on EDSA except that it shouldn’t be as the COVID-19 pandemic should be enough reason for people to stay at home. But it seems they aren’t if the vehicles clogging the lanes of the major thoroughfare were any indication on Monday, April 20 despite stricter inspection by the Joint Task Force Covid Shield and the PNP Highway Patrol Group. | photo by John Orven Verdote

President Rodrigo Duterte is weighing whether to “maintain, relax or lift” the enhanced community quarantine in Luzon following his meeting with health officials, Malacañang said on Tuesday, April 21.

At the beginning of the week, the president met with health experts and former heads of the Department of Health, during which there was no suggestion to enforce a “total lockdown” or extend the quarantine past its expiration on April 30.

“Ang option na lumabas kahapon ay ipagpatuloy, ‘di naman kaya i-relax o di naman kaya completely itigil ang ECQ sa iba’t ibang lugar ng bansa, depende sa dami ng kaso ng COVID-19 (The option being recommended yesterday was continue, relax or completely stop ECQ in different areas in the country, depending on the number of COVID-19 cases),” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said.

However, Roque revealed that experts lobbied for Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Quezon), and portions of Bulacan to remain under quarantine after April 30 due to the high number of COVID-19 cases in those areas.

He added that the lifting of Luzon’s lockdown at the end of the month was supported by Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion.

“The private sector’s suggestion was to find out which barangays have high infection rates and implement ECQ there,” the spokesman said.

Roque stressed that Duterte still has to study the proposals as well as weigh their pros and cons before he can make a final decision.

“President Duterte will look at the recommendation of IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force). He will look at the recommendation of WHO (World Health Organization) and the recommendation of the experts and then he will make a decision,” he said.

“Ang sabi po ni Presidente ang kaniyang (The president said his) decision may come today or it may come on April 30,” he added.

The spokesman also assured that Duterte’s decision will conform with WHO’s advice to consider several factors before lifting the lockdown enforced to contain the spread of the disease.

“Ang WHO advice na dahan-dahan dapat ang pagbalik sa normal ay iku-konsidera rin ng ating Presidente (WHO’s advice for a gradual return to normalcy will also be considered by the President),” he said.

Ritchel Mendiola

Ritchel Mendiola is a staff writer and reporter for the Asian Journal. You can reach her at [email protected].

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