Duterte expected to decide on fate of Luzon lockdown

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 23 2020 01:44 PM

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 is expected to decide on the fate of the enhanced community quarantine in Luzon on Thursday evening, a week before the scheduled end of the lockdown.

Duterte will decide on the basis of science and will be mindful of the health needs of the public in light of the coronavirus pandemic, his spokesman Harry Roque said. 

"Inaasahan po natin ang kaniyang desisyon anumang oras ngayon," Roque said in a virtual press briefing.

(We are expecting his decision anytime today.)

The President will meet with the government's pandemic inter-agency task force at 6 p.m. on Thursday.

"The President will base his decision on science...[He] has gotten the best advice from his own cabinet and from the private sector, including the academe," Roque said.

Sen. Christopher "Bong" Go on Tuesday said the President would decide a week before April 30 to give Filipinos ample time to prepare for possible changes.

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." 

Malacañang said options that are being considered are relaxing the lockdown in some areas, lifting it in areas that have no COVID-19 cases, and retaining the lockdown in areas with a high number of cases.

So far, Roque said studies show that there are a high number of COVID-19 cases in Metro Manila, parts of Bulacan, the Southern Tagalog region (Calabarzon), Cebu City, and Davao City.

"Importanteng tingnan natin 'yung mga numero on a geographical basis. At ang tanong nga natin ay sapat ba ang kakayanan ng health sector sa lugar na 'yun na gamitin lahat ng magkakasakit kung ire-relax o ili-lift ang ECQ," Roque said.

(It's important to look at the figures on a geographical basis. The question that we're asking is whether the health sector can adjust to whatever decision will be made on the enhanced community quarantine.)

The Philippines as of Wednesday confirmed 6,710 cases of COVID-19, including 446 deaths and 693 recoveries.