OCTA urges PH gov’t not to lift MECQ in NCR+ just yet

Robie de Guzman   •   April 23, 2021   •   356

MANILA, Philippines – COVID-19 restrictions being enforced in the National Capital Region (NCR) and nearby provinces should not be eased yet despite the declining spread of the viral respiratory disease, the OCTA Research Group said Friday.

OCTA Research Fellow Nicanor Austriaco said the NCR’s current reproduction number is at 0.98 from April 16 to 22.

He stressed that the less than one reproduction number should be sustained for several weeks before lifting the community quarantine restrictions.

“You have to sustain the R below one for at least several weeks, and this will take a careful planning with the length of the MECQ,” Austriaco said in an online briefing.

“We urge the national government, as one possible benchmark for changing quarantine levels, is not to exit the MECQ until at least the R is less than .9 in a sustained manner,” he added.

OCTA noted that the average daily cases in the NCR in the past seven days are now at 4,200 compared to 5,200 cases recorded two weeks ago.

However, Austriaco said this is still “somewhat unstable” because not all local government units in the NCR have reported decreasing cases.

“You always have the possibilities that as some LGUs recover, there will be an outbreak in one LGU that will spill over to the adjacent LGUs,” he said.

“We are looking for a consistent pattern of decrease throughout all the 17 LGUs for a significant period of time before we know we have successfully passed through the surge,” he added.

Austriaco also emphasized that hospitals also need to be decongested before restrictions can be further eased.

“How fast we decongest our hospitals depends upon he sustained reproduction number that we are able to maintain in the next few weeks,” he said.

The NCR and four provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Rizal, and Laguna have been placed under modified enhanced community quarantine until April 30.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque earlier said that the government is not yet satisfied with the current decline in cases.

It also remains unclear on whether the MECQ in the NCR Plus will be lifted or extended after April 30 as the Inter-Agency Task Force is still evaluating the current COVID-19 situation in the country before it submits a recommendation to President Rodrigo Duterte. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Voter registration in NCR Plus, other MECQ areas remain suspended — Comelec

Robie de Guzman   •   May 3, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The voter registration and voter’s certification remain suspended in the National Capital Region (NCR) Plus and other areas under the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ), the Commission on Elections (Comelec) announced.

In an advisory on Sunday, Comelec said the voter registration and the issuance of voter’s certification in the NCR Plus remain suspended from May 1 to 14.

The National Capital Region and nearby provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Rizal, and Laguna – collectively called NCR Plus – are under extended MECQ until May 14.

The areas of Santiago City in Isabela, Abra, and Quirino were placed under MECQ until May 31.

Comelec said voter registration and the issuance of voter’s certification will also be suspended in the same period.

“For the duration of the MECQ in NCR Plus and other areas, the Comelec Office for Overseas Voting (OFOV) in Intramuros, Manila will be attending exclusively to voter registration applicants with urgent travel needs,” the poll body said.

The poll body further said that voter registration and issuance of voter’s certification in the rest of the country under general community quarantine or modified GCQ will be open from Mondays to Thursdays.

COMELEC said OFOV may be reached via its official social media account, email address, and contact numbers +639050341558 or +639518759882.

P8.4-billion aid distributed to qualified beneficiaries in NCR — DILG

Robie de Guzman   •   April 30, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Local government units (LGUs) in the National Capital Region (NCR) have now distributed a total of P8.41-billion or 75.28 percent of financial assistance to qualified low-income beneficiaries, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) said Friday.

In a statement, DILG Secretary Eduardo Año commended the NCR LGUs for the “systematic and orderly” distribution of the assistance to beneficiaries despite the challenges of distribution during a pandemic.

“Given that 75% of the ayuda has been distributed, I am confident that the NCR LGUs will be able to complete the distribution by May 15. In fact, some are now close to finishing the distribution of the financial assistance,” he said.

“They have really been putting up the work at hindi rin naman po ito biro sa gitna nang maraming hamon na ating kinakaharap ngayong panahon ng pandemya,” he added.

Año said that together with the P8.41-billion financial aid distributed in NCR, a grand total of P16.29-billion financial aid has now been given to beneficiaries in the NCR Plus, which includes the provinces of Bulacan, Rizal, Laguna, and Cavite.

He said that from April 6-29, 2021, a total of 8,410,659 actual beneficiaries have received their assistance in the NCR with Caloocan City leading at a 96.31 percent distribution rate amounting to more than P1.29-billion.

As of April 29, 2021, Caloocan City tops the NCR LGUs in the aid distribution followed by Quezon City with 94.96 percent or P2.36-billion; Mandaluyong City with 92.51 percent corresponding to P337-million; and, Navotas City with 90.68 percent or P181-million worth of financial aid.

Meanwhile, the City of Manila (88.39 percent), the Municipality of Pateros (87.69 percent), and the City of San Juan (80.40%) were also among the top LGUs that have distributed the most financial assistance to their constituents and are all beyond the 80% distribution percentage.

LGUs from Bulacan, Rizal, Laguna, and Cavite were also able to tally a high distribution percentage of 67.11 percent and are more than halfway through the dissemination of cash aids in their jurisdictions.

Laguna leads with 81.29 percent or P2.2-billion worth of financial assistance distributed as of April 29, 2021 followed by Bulacan with 67.22 percent or P1.99-billion; Rizal with 64.61 percent or P1.69-billion; and, Cavite with 57.82 percent or P1.99-billion, the DILG said.

“With the extended deadline and the proactive stance of our LGUs, most of which have registered high compliance rate in their ayuda distribution, we can see that all financial aid will be distributed before the deadline we set,” Año said.

IATF adds Ifugao under MECQ, Puerto Princesa City under GCQ areas

Robie de Guzman   •   April 30, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) has added Ifugao Province to areas under modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) level, and Puerto Princesa City under general community quarantine (GCQ), Malacañang said Friday.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the two areas were added after the IATF finalized on Thursday the quarantine classifications following appeals from several local government units.

Roque said the IATF based its decision on the two-week daily attack rate of COVID-19 and hospital care utilization rate in the said areas.

Aside from Ifugao, the areas of Abra, Santiago City, Quirino, National Capital Region, Bulacan, Cavite, Rizal, and Laguna were also placed under MECQ until May 14.

Other than Puerto Princesa City, other areas under GCQ until May 31 are Apayao, Baguio City, Benguet, Ifugao, Kalinga, Mountain Province in CAR; Cagayan, Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya in Region 2; Batangas and Quezon in Region 4-A; Tacloban City in Region 8; Iligan City in Region 10; Davao City in Region 11; and Lanao del Sur in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

All other areas shall be placed under Modified General Community Quarantine for the month of May.

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