Metro Manila mayors favor easing restrictions to jumpstart economy

Published May 24, 2020 5:21:59 PM

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 24) — Some Metro Manila mayors are proposing to ease lockdown restrictions in the region after May 31 in order to prop up the ailing economy.

With one week left before the modified enhanced community quarantine ends, Parañaque mayor and chairman of the Metro Manila Council Edwin Olivarez said the capital is now ready to be placed under general community quarantine.

According to Olivarez, the national government’s efforts against the coronavirus disease have already helped slow the rate of infection, allowing local government units to better handle the situation should restrictions be eased.

The Metro Manila Council is set to meet on May 27, Wednesday, to come up with a single recommendation on whether or not to downgrade the community quarantine status in the area.

The council is composed of all mayors of the capital’s 16 cities and the municipality of Pateros.

“Ibabalanse natin eh. Mai-open natin ang economy, at the same time, hindi natin nape-prejudice ang ating healthcare,” Olivarez said. “‘Yung sa aming report ng aming city health office, itong past 10 days halos nagfa-flatten kami.”

[Translation: We will balance it. We will open our economy, while at the same time ensuring that it will not prejudice our healthcare. In our city health office’s report, our (COVID-19 curve) is almost flattening these past 10 days.]

Both Valenzuela mayor Rex Gatchalian and Navotas mayor Toby Tiangco echoed this view, adding that they’re already preparing for Metro Manila’s possible transition to GCQ.

Gatchalian also said that with constant testing, tracing and isolating, local chief executives can reopen the economy while at the same time stem the spread of the virus.

However, San Juan City mayor Francis Zamora expressed caution, noting it might be better for the modified ECQ to be extended for another two weeks to see if the downward trend in COVID-19 cases is sustained.

“I’m in favor of doing this slowly but surely,” he said. “In short, ‘wag na muna agad agad GCQ sana. Sana we can observe first the trend of the number of cases.”

[Translation: I’m in favor of doing this slowly but surely. In short, let’s not place Metro Manila under GCQ right away. Hopefully, we can observe first the trend of the number of cases.]

“We also have to consider the data and statistics of other cities,” Zamora added.

Targeted lockdown?

COVID-19 response chief implementer Carlito Galvez Jr. earlier mentioned the possibility of targeted lockdowns after May 31, with only certain zones — instead of whole cities — being placed under community quarantine.

Olivarez is in favor of this proposal, saying: “Hindi dapat ‘yung buong city mag-sacrifice kasi wala nang cases doon sa iba-iba nating barangays sa area. Kung saan na lang merong cases at clustering, ‘yun na lang ang ating i-ECQ.”

[Translation: The whole city should not be sacrificed, because there are no more cases in other barangays in the area. Where there remains to be cases and clustering, that’s only where we should implement the ECQ.]

Placing specific zones on quarantine may also be more practical, said Tiangco.

While Zamora and Gatchalian expressed support for the ‘targeted lockdown’ plan, they said there might not be any need for select areas in their cities to be placed under lockdown, as the spread of COVID-19 in San Juan and Valenzuela has been contained.

Metro Manila, along with Bataan, Bulacan, Laguna, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Zambales, has been placed under the modified ECQ until the end of May. Meanwhile, Cebu City and Mandaue City continue to be under the stricter ECQ.

The rest of the country is now under general community quarantine.

To date, there are over 14,000 confirmed cases of the viral disease in the Philippines, with over 800 deaths and more than 3,000 recoveries.


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