MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang already expects that the Philippines would be placed under modified general community quarantine by March, even as President Rodrigo Duterte has yet to decide on whether to accept recommendations to put the entire country under the laxest quarantine regime.
“We are expecting that Metro Manila and the entire Philippines would be placed under MGCQ,” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said in Filipino on state-run People’s Television, saying that Duterte may be swayed by the recommendations by the government’s pandemic task force and by a majority of mayors in the capital region.
Roque said Duterte is expected to make a decision on whether the country will shift to MGCQ on Monday, but his verdict would be announced before the end of the month.
In anticipation of the easing of coronavirus curbs, which experts and the World Health Organization have warned against, the government’s pandemic task force has removed specific restrictions on mass gatherings imposed in areas under the stricter GCQ.
“We’re just reiterating that there are no more special rules under GCQ because all of us are covered by rules under MGCQ, at least starting March 1 and if the president allows it,” Roque said in Filipino.
Roque also announced that more foreigners would be allowed entry into the Philippines, with the government’s pandemic task force now letting all foreigners with valid and existing visas at the time of entry to come to the country.
The Philippines is easing restrictions in a bid to revive an economy badly hit by the pandemic even as it has been recording on average around 1,600 new COVID-19 cases daily since November and as it faces threats of new, more infectious variants of the coronavirus.
The Department of Health has also confirmed the detection of two mutations of the virus that causes COVID-19, but their public health implications are still unknown.
The Philippines has the second-worst outbreak of COVID-19 in Southeast Asia, with over 555,000 cases and over 11,000 deaths. — Xave Gregorio
As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: February 19, 2021 - 7:45am
National Economic and Development Authority director general Karl Chua recommended that the entire Philippines, including the National Capital Region, be placed under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) in March. Bookmark this page for updates. (Main image by The STAR/Michael Varcas)
February 19, 2021 - 7:45am
The inter-agency task force approves a resolution mandating pension-issuing agencies and their servicing banks and other institutions to adopt alternative modes of validation for senior citizen pensions.
At present, senior citizens make personal appearances or submit documents that require personal appearances before a notary public in order to have continuous access to their pensions. — The STAR/Christina Mendez
February 18, 2021 - 12:13pm
Navotas mayor Toby Tiangco says nine mayors in the Metro Manila Council voted to ease quarantine status in the region to modified general community quarantine starting March 1.
Eight Metro Manila mayors, on the other hand, wanted to retain the GCQ status,