MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte has asked for "a little more time" to approve a proposal to place the entire Philippines under the loosest of 4 quarantine levels and revive the country's ailing economy, an official said on Tuesday.
Duterte on Monday postponed the nationwide shift to modified general community quarantine, while the country has yet to start its coronavirus vaccination drive.
"The President is just asking for a little more time because again, ang step-by-step process para sa kaniya is vaccination rollout muna," said Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles.
(The step-by-step process for him is vaccination rollout should be first.)
"Let's wait and let's see. 'Pag good and successful rollout of the vaccination, makita lang na nagsimula iyong vaccination program na may mga nakakuha na ng bakuna... then he will make the decision about the MGCQ for the entire country,"
(If the rollout of the vaccination is good and successful, after he sees that there have been people vaccinated, then he will make the decision about the MGCQ for the entire country.)
The Philippines, among the fastest growing economies in Asia before the pandemic, saw its gross domestic product slump by a record 9.5% in 2020, as one of the world's longest and strictest COVID-19 lockdowns shuttered thousands of businesses and left millions out of work.
Metro Manila, an urban sprawl of 16 cities accounting for 40 percent of the country's economic output, has been under GCQ or the third strictest lockdown since August, limiting the operating capacity of businesses and public transport.
The COVID-19 task force will make recommendations for the President on which areas should remain under GCQ in March, said Nograles.
"Our economic managers and the different concerned departments and agencies will have to work around that framework in order for us to address iyong mga (the) needs," he added.
The Philippines has yet to get vaccine supplies for its inoculation target this year, which is around 70 million people or more than two-thirds of its 108 million population.
An initial batch of 600,000 doses of Sinovac Biotech vaccines donated by China could arrive in the last week of February or early March, Nograles said.
The Philippines Food and Drug Administration on Monday granted emergency use authorization for the Sinovac vaccine, CoronaVac.
With more than 563,000 cases and nearly 12,100 deaths, the Philippines has the second highest COVID-19 infections and casualties in Southeast Asia, next to Indonesia.
Video courtesy of PTV