Palace: PH economy will not be able to withstand ‘prolonged’ MECQ

President Rodrigo Duterte talks to the people after holding a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) core members at the Malago Clubhouse in Malacañang on Tuesday, August 2. Malacañang | photo by King Rodriguez

THE Philippine economy will not be able to withstand a prolonged modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) in Mega Manila, Malacañang said on Tuesday, August 4.

“Tatapatin ko po kayo, hindi na po kaya ng ekonomiya ang mas matagalan pang lockdown (I will be blunt, the economy cannot withstand a longer lockdown),” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque told reporters.

The statement came following suggestions to extend the MECQ until the end of the month.

Roque stressed that placing Mega Manila under MECQ was a “compromise” to the demand of healthcare workers for a timeout.

President Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday, August 2, shifted Metro Manila back to MECQ after approving the Cabinet’s recommendation to return to a more stringent lockdown in response to the medical community’s plea.

Medical frontliners addressed the president in an open letter, stressing that the country’s healthcare system is overwhelmed.

“Dear President Duterte, healthcare workers are united in sounding off a distress signal to the nation that our healthcare system has been overwhelmed,” the letter read.
“We are waging a losing battle against COVID-19, and we need to draw up a consolidated, definitive plan of action,” it added.

The letter was signed by 80 medical associations representing 80,000 doctors and a million nurses. It was then read by Philippine Medical Association (PMA) president Dr. Jose Santiago during an online press conference headed by the Philippine College of Physicians (PCP) on Saturday, August 1.

“We propose that the ECQ be used as a timeout to refine our pandemic control strategies addressing the following urgent conditions or problems: hospital workforce efficiency; failure of contact tracing and quarantine; transportation safety; workplace safety; public compliance with self-protection; social amelioration,” Santiago read.

The quarantine classification took effect today and will be in place until August 18.

Under this quarantine status, strict home quarantine will be observed in all households.

There will be no public transport, domestic flights, and mass gatherings. There will also be limited transporting services for essential goods and services.

DILG condemns ‘shoot to kill’ post of QC exec

The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) frowned upon the proposal of a local city official to use the “shoot to kill” approach in dealing with violators of quarantine protocols.

According to DILG spokesperson, Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya, Task Force Disiplina head Councilor Rannie Ludovica’s suggestion was “improper and illegal.”

“We advise him to desist from issuing similar statements in the future,” he said.

“While we strongly believe that discipline is one of the preventive measures to stop the transmission of the (novel coronavirus), this must be enforced within the bounds of the law and the DILG will not tolerate any possible abuse of authority on the part of law enforcement agencies or enforcement units of local government units,” he added.
Ludovica, in his viral post, wrote: “Mula bukas, shoot to kill na ang lalabag sa (Starting tomorrow, shoot to kill for all violators of) MECQ.”

Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte, for her part, condemned his statement.

“Ang pahayag ng pinuno ng Task Force Disiplina na si Konsehal Rannie Ludovica ay aming kinokondena, ito ay mali, inappropriate and irresponsible (We condemn the remark of Task Force Disiplina head Councilor Rannie Ludovica, this is wrong, inappropriate and irresponsible),” she said Tuesday.

However, she maintained that Ludovica’s statement “was nothing more but to express his frustrations.”

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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