Most Metro Manila mayors are in favor of shifting the National Capital Region (NCR) to a “strict” General Community Quarantine (GCQ) starting on May 15.
The mayors, comprising the 16 cities and one municipality of the NCR said they want a “strict” GCQ where heightened restrictions and implementation of health protocols shall remain in place while more economic activities are slowly being regenerated.
Marikina Mayor Marcy Teodoro said the Metro Manila Council (MMC) held a consensus-building meeting Wednesday night, May 12, to discuss their recommendation for the NCR’s next quarantine classification.
Teodoro, in an interview with DZRH, said all Metro Manila mayors agreed that they will defer to the decision of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF).
“Ang kaisahan na nabuo kagabi, lahat ng LGU [local government units], ang mga Metro Manila mayors ay una, syempre ay magdedefer tayo sa wisdom ng IATF at maghahanda kung ano man ang tagubilin o ano mang mga guidelines na ibibigay sa atin ay mapatupad natin ng maayos, (The unity that was formed last night, all LGUs, Metro Manila mayors will first, of course, we will defer to the wisdom of the IATF and prepare whatever instructions or whatever guidelines will be given to us (so) we can implement it properly),” he said.
One of the main highlights during the meeting was the poverty and income loss arising from the pandemic, the mayor said.
“Ang isa talagang lumalabas sa usapan ay ang kahirapan ngayon. ‘Yung marami tayong kababayan na nawawalan ng trabaho dahil nga sa mga restrictions natin sa ating mga economical activities (One of the things that came up in the conversation is the poverty being experienced by our people today. Many are losing their jobs because of the restrictions in our economic activities), he added.
Teodoro said all mayors favor opening up more economic activities coupled with heightened restrictions.
“Dahil doon, nangangailangan tayong magkaroon ng slowly opening ng mga activities (Because of that, we need to slowly open more economic activities),” he said.
“Kung magbago man ang quarantine status ay nananatiling mataas o heightened ang mga restrictions pagdating sa pagsunod ng mga minimum public health standards (Whether the quarantine status changes, the restrictions remain high or heightened when it comes to compliance with minimum public health standards),” Teodoro noted.
He added that public constructions in Marikina City are in full swing and somehow provide jobs to the residents. However, constructions in private sectors are still suspended that is why he is pushing for the opening of more economic activities.
Should the NCR shift to GCQ, the mayor said that non-essentials or border controls will still be imposed.
Teodoro also said that there cannot be a “stand alone” city in the NCR.
“Hindi pwedeng stand alone. Hindi pwedeng isang lungsod lang ang mabuti ang kalagayan. Yung mga town natin, porous, contiguous, magkakatabi ang iba-ibang siyudad (It can’t be stand alone. It can’t be just one city is in good condition. Our towns are porous, contiguous, different cities are next to each other),” he stressed.
San Juan City Mayor Francis Zamora on Thursday also said he is in favor of easing the quarantine status of Metro Manila to GCQ.
“I personally voted for a GCQ because the discussions last night were really to have a GCQ that is strict in nature because there were GCQs before that had additional allowances, meaning in terms of allowable businesses and industries which made it a not so strict GCQ,” Zamora said in an interview with CNN Philippines.
Zamora stressed that if the NCR will shift to GCQ, the public must not be complacent in following the minimum public health and safety protocols such as the wearing of face masks, face shields, and social distancing, especially now that the more contagious Indian virant of the virus has reached the country.
On Wednesday, Makati City Mayor Abby Binay said that the MMC is “united in its position” to gradually ease quarantine restrictions.
The easing of restrictions should be done just “enough” for other businesses to be able to start up, Binay said.
“Maybe increase the capacity of restaurants a little,” she said.
Taguig Mayor Lino Cayetano said he personally favors shifting his city to GCG when the MECQ status ends on May 14 but said he will abide by the decision of the IATF.
The NCR Plus area consisting of the National Capital Region, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal is under MECQ until May 14.
“Personally, I think the City of Taguig has been ready since November last year to downgrade. But Taguig City is not an island. Metro Manila is one ecosystem. We are only as strong as our weakest link. Taguig is only as strong as its weakest barangay,” said Cayetano at the symbolic vaccination of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at the Lakeshore Mega Vaccination Hub in Taguig Thursday together with members of the IATF.
He said Taguig cannot decide on its own regarding the community quarantine, saying, “That is something that the various LGUs (local government units) have accepted. Even if we can in Taguig, Makati, Manila, we are really dependent because the ecosystem of Metro Manila is interdependent.”
“So for Taguig, yes, but we will not decide independently because we need the input of the other mayors as well as the economic managers,” he added.