Wed. Jan 26th, 2022

By the Staff

MANILA – It’s now official.

Malacanang has announced the re-extension until May 15, 2020 of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in Metro Manila and other areas considered as ‘high risk.’

The areas considered as high risk are Benguet, Pangasinan, Bataan, Bulacan, Nueva Ecijia, Tarlac, Pampanga, Zambales, Batangas, Cavite, Oriental Mindoro, Occidental Mindoro, Albay, Batanes, Antique, Iloilo, Cebu, Cebu City, and Davao City.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque explained said the areas mentioned were all considered “high risk” owing to the number of COVID-19 cases or incidents in their communities.

During the 8 a.m. press briefing Friday, Roque said the decision was the summation of discussions made Thursday night between President Duterte and the IATF.

He also said that, on April 30, the status of Benguet, Pangasinan, Tarlac, Zambales, Antique, Iloilo, Aklan, Capaz, Cebu, Cebu City, Davao del Norte, and Davao City will be re-evaluated on COVID-cases.

Originally, the ECQ in Luzon was supposed to end on April 30.

This is the second time ECQ has been extended as COVID-19 cases reach 6,981 confirmed across the entire country.

“All other provinces not mentioned will be under ‘general community quarantine,’ where they must observe the new normal,” Roque said adding that “for areas under general community quarantine, pwedeng magtrabaho ang mga manggagawa mula piling sektor.”

He also said that minors and citizens aged 60 years old and above will still need to remain at home.

Malls and public transport will reopen but at “reduced capacity.”

“Ang mga bata at may edad 60 pataas ay mananatili sa bahay. Papayagan ang mga mall na magbukas, ang public transport pwede at reduced capacity.”

Industries involved in agriculture, forestry, food production, and supply chain industries will be allowed to “fully reopen” the Palace spox said.

Department of Trade and Industry Secretary Mon Lopez added that “the reopening of malls and the construction is still being discussed “dahil contrary ito sa gusto nating panatilihin ang mga tao sa kanilang mga bahay.”

Lopez and agriculture head William Dar gave an assurance to the public that the supply of food and basic goods is holding steady.

Budgetary consideration

Meanwhile, Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado also clarified the financial situation currently facing the country.

“Hindi natin ine-expect ang COVID-19. Ang pwede nating galawin, which we have done, is ₱397 billion. Sa ngayon, ang nagamit na natin ay ₱352 billion na. Konting-konti na lang ang natitira,” Avisado said adding that PH might need “external loans to shore up the national budget.”

Senator Bong Go

For his part, Presidential aide and senator Bong Go also called for a “Balik Probinsya” program.

The said program, the Senator said is the long-term solution to decongest Metro Manila and other urban centers to prevent crippling epidemics like COVID-19 in the future.

“As soon as ECQ is lifted, the government must encourage Filipino families to move out of Metro Manila for good,” said Go.


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