LOCAL government units (LGUs) have appealed the community quarantine (CQ) levels recommended by the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) in their jurisdictions, Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said yesterday.
The appeals were made ahead of President Duterte’s final decision and announcement on whether to ease, sustain or further restrict the current lockdowns implemented in parts of the country to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
Last week, Roque said the IATF has already reached a consensus and that the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) had gone down to the LGUs to confer with them the task force’s recommendation for their corresponding actions and reactions, including possible appeals.
Details of the recommendation have not been made public. The IATF was set to meet with the President yesterday afternoon, after which Duterte was expected to make a public address late Monday night to announce his decision.
Current community quarantines lapsed on June 15.
The general community quarantine (GCQ) in effect in the National Capital Region (NCR), Cagayan Valley (Region 2), Central Luzon (Region 3), Calabarzon (Region 4-A), Central Visayas (Region 7), Pangasinan province, and the cities of Zamboanga, Davao, Cebu and Mandaue also lapsed on June 15.
Likewise, the modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) imposition over the rest of the country ended yesterday.
Roque said among those that submitted an appeal was Cebu City, which asked that it be placed under the stricter modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ).
Cebu City, along with Metro Manila, had been closely monitored by the Department of Health due to the high number of COVID-19 cases in the areas.
Roque said the provinces of Quezon, Abra, Apayao and Lanao del Sur and the Caraga region requested that they be placed under GCQ.
On the other hand, the provinces of Pangasinan, Nueva Ecija, Zambales, Pampanga, Cavite and Cebu, and the city of Angeles appealed that be placed under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ).
Dagupan City, Batanes, Davao de Oro, Davao del Norte, Davao Occidental, Davao Oriental, and Davao del Sur have also appealed for the “de-escalation” of their current level of community quarantine. “Ibig sabihin siguro from GCQ gusto nilang maging MGCQ (It probably means they want to be downgraded from GCQ to MGCQ),” Roque said.
Roque said he was not aware of the final decision of the IATF on the appeals.
The appeals will be submitted to President Duterte, along with the final IATF recommendation.
Roque said that apart from the number of cases, the ability of LGUs to provide critical care to patients will be considered, plus the economic situation of the area in determining community quarantine levels.
He said last week that based on the data on COVID cases, the situation in Metro Manila and Cebu City does not inspire or reflect the idea of an area under an MGCQ. Metro Manila is the epicenter of COVID-19 cases in the country, while Cebu City has one of the highest number of cases, next to cities in the National Capital Region.
Roque, however, acknowledged that despite the high number of cases in these areas, the case doubling rate in Metro Manila is now at 6.9 days to 7 days, while Health undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the critical care in the region is at 35 percent.
Vergeire also said that there are also several available Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds and mechanical ventilators to accommodate more patients.
“And that was the very objective of flattening the curve. For us to extend time, to have more time to prepare and we can now see the capacity of our health facilities, laboratories is improving. So, I think if you are asking if we will have an easing of restrictions, it will all depend on these indicators that we have just mentioned,” Vergeire added in mixed English and Tagalog.
Vergeire also said that while the number of total cases, including death, seems to be increasing in the last few days, it was actually due to the delayed release of confirmed data. She also said that compared to other countries, the Philippines still has a low fatality rate at 4.23 percent which is below the global scenario of 5.6 percent but higher than the average in the ASEAN region of 2.92 percent.