MANILA (UPDATE) - People from nearby cities and provinces employed in Metro Manila can still go to work as they are considered as part of the Philippine capital's population by day, Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año said Thursday.
This after President Rodrigo Duterte announced a "community quarantine" in Metro Manila as travel—whether by land, sea, or domestic air—in and out of the National Capital Region will be prohibited starting Sunday, following the “sustained community transmission” of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
Año said workers just need to go through designated checkpoints, show their company ID as proof that they are working in Metro Manila, and follow precautionary measures such as hand sanitation and temperature check.
The Department of Transportation will also issue a protocol for mass transportation in order to cater to workers outside Metro Manila, he added.
"Papayagan 'yong mga magtatrabaho na pumasok provided lang na mayroon lang silang ID. Mayroon lang magpapatunay na ang work nila ay dito sa Metro Manila," Año told radio DZMM.
He also encouraged the private sector to implement a more flexible schedule for their employees or a work-from-home scheme if possible.
"We also have to consider 'yong mga kababayan nating nagtatrabaho lalo na 'yong mga ordinaryong trabaho pero 'yong mga pwedeng mag-work sa bahay, we encourage na mag-work from home na lang at magkaroon sana ng flexible schedule sana sa mga private sector. Sana kaya nilang gawin 'yong para sana mabawasan 'yong mga taong nagbibiyahe," the secretary said.
Año said the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police will organize forces for checkpoints in and out of Metro Manila. He, however, said the "community quarantine" is not a "total lockdown."
"Hindi naman po natin sinasabi itong total lockdown. We are just expecting movement especially coming in and going out of Manila. Unang-una, ayaw na nating magspread itong virus from [Metro] Manila and going outside of Metro Manila," he said.
"Mahirap kapag ka iba't ibang probinsiya o region nag-spread 'yong virus. Hanggang nandito sa Metro Manila, ma-confine natin dito. Dito na natin ibuhos ang ating effort at resources."
Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, however, said that domestic sea, air, and land travel is "absolutely" prohibited in and out of Metro Manila following the "community quarantine."
"Gaya ng inannounce kanina domestic sea, and domestic air, and land travel to and from Metro Manila, ipagbabawal na beginning on March 15, 12:01," he said.
Nograles said the inter-agency task force will meet Friday to clarify protocols on who are allowed to travel.
Details such as the definition of a community quarantine, a skeletal work force that offices can implement, and government agenda outside of Metro Manila will be refined.
"'Yon ang decision ang inter-agency task force but siyempre tomorrow magmi-meeting pa ang task force para i-clarify 'yung iba't ibang detalye" he said.
"Gaya ng sabi ng pangulo, every day naman 'yung meetings namin so lahat ng mga detalye, lahat ng finer details everyday ide-detalye namin."
Año said Filipinos have to bear with the situation as the government is doing its best to contain the virus.
"It's really inconvenient but there's no alternative. Ganyan talaga 'yan. May inconvenience, may sakripisyo, and somehow titigil ang ating ekonomiya at maaapektuhan," he said.
"Huwag kayong matakot. Huwag kayong mag-panic. We are doing this for the good of everyone. Hindi naman ito lockdown o total lockdown. We are just making sure na hindi mag-iispread 'yong virus going to the provinces."
The outbreak, which began in the Chinese city of Wuhan, has killed some 4,000 people and infected 110,000 others worldwide, prompting the World Health Organization to declare a global pandemic.
As of late Thursday, the Philippines has recorded 3 new fatalities from the said virus, raising the total death toll to 5, with 52 cases at hand.