Duterte to address nation as lockdown reaches halfway point

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 30 2020 01:09 PM | Updated as of Mar 30 2020 04:57 PM

President Rodrigo Duterte announces the content of the resolution adopted by the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) following the meeting at the Malacañan Palace on March 12, 2020. Richard Madelo, Presidential Photo

MANILA (UPDATE) - President Rodrigo Duterte will address the Filipino nation on Monday, Malacañang said, as the lockdown of Luzon reaches its halfway point and as Congress awaits his report on the government's response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Duterte will deliver a televised message supposedly at 4 p.m. but as of 4:40 p.m., the President was still in a meeting with government officials, his spokesman Salvador Panelo said.

"We shall make the proper announcement after the said meeting is concluded and when the President is set to deliver his message to the people, as earlier announced," Panelo said.

The President is set to submit to Congress on Monday a report on how his administration utilized public funds to send aid to indigent families and health workers battling the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) as part of the checks and balances measure under the "Bayanihan to Heal as One Act" which granted Duterte more powers to respond to the pandemic.

"I expect to receive a report on [the] distribution of financial aid to the 18 million families of the informal sector, mass testing specially in urban areas, [and] prioritization of the safety and welfare of the frontline health workers," Senate President Vicente Sotto III told reporters in a text message.

The law was signed last week just as the government released its plan to address the pandemic that include a 2-month cash aid for some 18 million poor families.

Luzon was placed on a month-long lockdown until April 12 to arrest the spread of COVID-19. People were told to stay at home, mass transportation was suspended, and food and other supplies were regulated.

Officials have yet to comment on possibly extending the lockdown, with many hopeful that the country could contain the situation by April 12. 

“What we would have achieved by April 12 is we would have been able to contain the virus. We would probably have been able to identify what communities are negative. So, siguro, we want to see more communities na negative, na walang COVID-19 cases,” Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said.

“Basically the victory we want to happen is hindi na siya mag-spread, and hopefully there will be no new cases happening,” he added.