IATF to study mayors’ bid to retain Metro Manila under GCQ after Sept. 30 – Año

Robie de Guzman   •   September 25, 2020   •   595

MANILA, Philippines – Most mayors in the National Capital Region (NCR) are in favor of extending the general community quarantine (GCQ) being implemented in the region, Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año said on Friday.

Año said the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) will meet on Sunday, Sept. 27 to discuss the recommendation of the Metro Manila Council on the next quarantine status in NCR by October.

“Maraming mga mayors ng NCR ang gusto pa rin mag-GCQ pero depende pa rin sa usapan sa Sunday,” he said.

Metro Manila is under GCQ until Sept. 30 as earlier recommended by the IATF and approved by President Rodrigo Duterte.

Año said they will thoroughly discuss the Metro Manila mayors’ proposal in order to balance the factors of public health and economy which has been battered by the coronavirus pandemic.

“Dalawa ‘yan: mahigpit na MGCQ o maluwag na GCQ. Kapag titignan mo mas maganda talaga na naka-GCQ tayo kahit magluwag ka ng konti pero meron kang talagang mas mataaas na panuntunan kaysa yung nag MGCQ ka pagkatapos hihigpitan mo,” he said.

The Department of Trade and Industry earlier said that Metro Manila could be placed under modified GCQ as this would allow the reopening of more industries to help revive the economy.

The IATF is also set to meet with Duterte on Sunday night to discuss the next quarantine classifications in NCR. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Asher Cadapan Jr.)

NCR mayors, medical experts back Duterte decision on GCQ status

Robie de Guzman   •   February 23, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Mayors in the National Capital Region (NCR) give all out support to President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision to keep the region under general community quarantine (GCQ) classification unless the COVID-19 vaccination program has been rolled out, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) said Tuesday.

MMDA chairman Benhur Abalos said local chief executives in the NCR would ‘rally behind’ the president even if most of them have voted in favor of the proposal to put the region under modified GCQ in March to help revive the country’s economy.

“As what we have always emphasized, the Metro Manila mayors would always defer to the wisdom and judgement of the President,” Abalos said in a statement.

“We are one with him, and would exert all efforts and rally behind him in combating this COVID-19 pandemic,” he added.

The National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) earlier recommended the shift to MGCQ to reopen the economy that has been battered by the coronavirus pandemic.

In separate statements, NCR mayors welcomed Duterte’s decision on the matter as they vowed to implement stricter health protocols to curb the spread of the viral disease.

“I am grateful to President Rodrigo Duterte for declaring that Metro Manila remain under General Community Quarantine (GCQ) until the vaccines against COVID-19 are rolled out and made available to Filipinos,” San Juan City Mayor Francis Zamora said.

“We’ve already anticipated what to do, ramping up contact tracing, testing and early detection,” Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte said.

Medical experts from the Philippine Society for Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, for their part, said that the shift to MGCQ will only be possible if the public will religiously follow the minimum health protocols set by the government.

“Based on previous experience I know that we know that we are not good in self-regulation, is that gonna change once we move into MGCQ? I think that’s the question every Filipino should answer,” Dr. Kathryn Roa said.

“I know that lockdown is hard but I just feel like the minute that we try to relax the lockdown or the quarantine it will somehow translate to people thinking that everything is well and I think they will start not minding wearing the mask, not minding wearing the shield, the physical distancing,” Dr. Faith Villanue said.

They also urged the public not to squander the efforts being put in to fight the pandemic and to continue observing protocols to stop the spread of coronavirus. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Janice Ingente)

Tourism dept. backs DILG move to streamline travel requirements

Robie de Guzman   •   February 23, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Tourism (DOT) has expressed its support for the move of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) to streamline the travel procedures and requirements being imposed by local government units (LGU).

In a statement issued on Tuesday, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said her department has long been advocating for the “simplification of travel requirement as this is critical in making domestic tourism work.”

Citing a survey conducted from November 28 to December 30, 2020, Puyat said that 81 percent of respondents consider the varying LGU requirements as the factor that makes travel most inconvenient.

The survey was conducted by the DOT in partnership with the Asian Institute of Management – Dr. Andrew L. Tan Center for Tourism, and Guide to the Philippines.

Among the common travel requirements being imposed by the LGUs are the medical certificate, other types of pre-travel or test-on-arrival COVID tests and quarantine.  

At the destinations, some rules that need to be standardized are those that relate to RT-PCR for children/infant, rooming or capacity limits and age restrictions vis-à-vis inter- and intra-regional movement of domestic tourists, the DOT said.

“Streamlining entry requirements will make travelling in the new normal more convenient while also protecting the public’s safety and well-being,” Puyat said.

“Furthermore, this will also help in preventing the entry of those who falsify documents by standardizing validation protocols,” she added.

The DILG earlier expressed support for proposals to place the entire country under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) classification to “harmonize” regulations being implemented by LGUs.

DILG spokesperson and Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya said there is a need to remove “redundancies” and impose less stringent requirements for domestic tourist travel, while managing health risks at the same time.

He, however, emphasized that the less restrictive quarantine classification would not mean abandoning health protocols but simply streamlining regulations to bring back jobs and revive the economy battered by the pandemic.

The DILG said works on streamlining regulations for domestic travel are ongoing to encourage tourism and revive the sector, as well as the country’s economy in general.

NCRPO in favor of placing Metro Manila under MGCQ

Aileen Cerrudo   •   February 19, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) said it is in favor of relaxing the quarantine classification in Metro Manila from General Community Quarantine (GCQ) to Modified General Community Quarantine (MGCQ).

According to NCRPO Director PMGen. Vicente Danao Jr., this is to ease the load of police officers who have been monitoring quarantine controlled points for almost one year.

It could be a very very welcome development for all of us at least. Siguro nakikita ng taas na nako-kontrol na natin ang virus. Hopefully, as long as hindi po natin maba-violate ang basic health protocols (Maybe the higher-ups are seeing we are controlling the virus. Hopefully, as long as we do not violate the basic health protocols),” he said.

Aside from this, easing the quarantine classification can also help them in focusing more on their anti-illegal drugs, anti-criminality, and anti-terrorism campaign.

Meanwhile, Danao also reiterated that the public should still follow the minimum health and safety protocols.

“Let us be responsible enough to really, follow the basic like wearing a facemask, face shield, social distancing,” he said. -AAC (with reports from Lea Ylagan)

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