Metro Manila mayors, IATF agree to ease quarantine, Palace says

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 19 2021 08:23 AM | Updated as of Feb 19 2021 08:42 AM

Metro Manila mayors, IATF agree to ease quarantine, Palace says 1
Residents retrieve their belongings after demolition operations in Barangay Talon Dos, Las Piñas City on Feb. 18, 2021. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA — Metro Manila mayors and the inter-agency task force leading the country's COVID-19 response have reached an agreement to place the National Capital Region under modified general community quarantine next month, Malacañang said on Friday. 

The IATF earlier this week urged President Rodrigo Duterte to place the entire country under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ), the lowest of 4 lockdown levels, to boost the economy. 

"Sabihin na lang natin na nagkasundo na ang IATF na nagrekomenda sa ating Presidente na magkaroon na ng MGCQ sa buong Pilipinas at ang mga alkalde sa Metro Manila," said Duterte's spokesman Harry Roque. 

(Let us just say that the IATF which recommended that the President place the entire Philippines under MGCQ and the mayors of Metro Manila have agreed.)

"Inaasahan naman natin, dahil mayroon nang ganitong kasunduan sa panig ng IATF at ng mga Metro Manila mayors, e baka naman po sumang-ayon na ang ating Presidente," he said in a televised announcement. 

(We expect that because of this agreement between the IATF and the Metro Manila mayors, the President might agree.)

The President on Feb. 22 will decide on quarantine levels for March, said Roque. He said he might announce this before the end of February.

Nine of the 17 mayors in the capital region are in favor of MGCQ in March, the Metro Manila Council said on Thursday.

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Metro Manila, which accounts for about a third of the country's gross domestic product, is under GCQ, the second least stringent out of 4 lockdown levels, along with the Cordilleras and 6 other areas in February.

The rest are under modified general community quarantine, the loosest quarantine restriction level.

The Philippines has Southeast Asia's second-highest number of coronavirus infections and deaths, at 555,163 and 11,673, respectively. 

The country has yet to receive any COVID-19 shot, with which it hoped to launch its vaccination drive this month, and cover up to 70 million people or two-thirds of the population through the year. 

Further delays could derail economic recovery after the country's worst contraction on record last year, when it slumped 9.5 percent, the worst in Southeast Asia.

— With a report from Reuters