Duterte to decide fate of Luzon lockdown on April 23; modified quarantine possible

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 21 2020 06:26 PM | Updated as of Apr 21 2020 07:39 PM

Duterte to decide fate of Luzon lockdown on April 23; modified quarantine possible 1
President Rodrigo Duterte holds a meeting with members of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) at the Malago Clubhouse in Malacañang on April 20, 2020. Ace Morandante, Presidential Photo

MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte will decide on the fate of the enhanced community quarantine in Luzon on Thursday, April 23, to give Filipinos ample time to prepare for possible changes, his former aide Sen. Christopher "Bong" Go said Tuesday.

Duterte will meet with the country's pandemic task force on the same day, Go said. There is a possibility that the enhanced community quarantine will be modified, he added. 

"Ngayon po ay pinag-aaralang mabuti at ngayong Huwebes ay magdedesisyon ang ating Pangulo. Ipupulong niya ulit 'yung ilang miyembro ng ating inter-agency task force," the lawmaker told radio DZMM.

(Now that is being studied and this Thursday the President will decide. He will again meet with some members of the inter-agency task force.)

The decision will come a week before the extended lockdown in Luzon is scheduled to expire.

The President on Monday met with medical experts, including former secretaries of the Department of Health, to get their views on the government's next move in containing the spread of COVID-19.

Malacañang said options that were discussed are relaxing the lockdown in some areas, lifting it in areas that have few COVID-19 cases, and retaining the lockdown in areas with a high number of cases.

So far, Malacañang said COVID-19 cases are high in Metro Manila, parts of Bulacan, and the Southern Tagalog Region (Calabarzon).

Should the government decide to extend the enhanced community quarantine in certain areas, Go said the President is appealing to authorities to strictly enforce COVID-19 protocols.

"It will serve as a challenge sa lahat ng mga probinsya na hindi ibig sabihin na kung modified na kayo ay luwangan na ninyo at normal na," the senator added.

(If the lockdown will be modified in your area, it doesn't mean that you will be complacent and that the situation is already normal.) 

Over 50 million people were forced to stay home as Luzon was placed under lockdown on March 17 to contain the spread of COVID-19.

The lockdown, which was supposed to end on April 12, was extended until April 30 as the government said it needed more time to prepare for a "new normal." 

“It’s not an easy decision to come up with and we still have time for the President to give his decision,” Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, also the spokesman of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on the COVID-19 pandemic said on Tuesday.

"[The President] needs more time basically," Nograles said.