MANILA (UPDATE) - The capital region is ready for further easing of community quarantine restrictions, Malacañang said Thursday ahead of President Rodrigo Duterte's decision on lockdown protocols.
The government's Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) has recommended a shift to the general community quarantine or GCQ in Metro Manila by June 1. The National Capital Region is currently under modified enhanced community quarantine, with movement of people and business operations still limited.
Recent COVID-19 data showed that the National Capital Region is "ready" to transition to a GCQ, Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said.
"Well, NCR is ready based on the data we've seen but that really depends on the cooperation of everyone," he said during a Palace press briefing.
Just hours after Roque's announcement that Metro Manila is ready for a more relaxed quarantine, the Department of Health said the Philippines recorded its highest number of new cases on Thursday at 539.
The majority of new cases, at 330, were from Metro Manila which accounted for 61 percent of the new infections.
A region of an estimated 12 million people in 16 cities and 1 town, Metro Manila is the nation's seat of power and is home to business and transport hubs. It accounts for the most number of coronavirus cases reported in the country, based on government figures.
Most of the country has been under GCQ since May 16. Metro Manila, Laguna, and several areas of Central Luzon have, meanwhile, been under a modified lockdown, while the cities of Cebu and Mandaue and parts of Navotas remain under enhanced community quarantine.
Roque said the government has a "very high" level of confidence that Filipinos would still observe COVID-19 precautionary measures even when community quarantine protocols are relaxed.
"The level of confidence is very high. Unang-una napatunayan ng mga Pilipino na kaya nilang sumunod dahil naman, by and large, itong more than 70 days na tayong nagkaroon ng ECQ and MECQ," Roque said in a Palace press briefing.
(Filipinos have showed that they can follow protocols because, by and large, we have been on lockdown for more than 70 days already.)
"Pinatunayan po natin na disiplinado po ang mga Pilipino," he added.
(We have shown that Filipinos are disciplined.)
But even if Metro Manila transitions to a GCQ, Roque reminded the public that community quarantine protocols such as checkpoints would remain in place.
"Hindi naman po completely mawawala 'yung ating existing responses to make sure na hindi naman po balik sa normal tayo. Patuloy pa rin po 'yan habang tayo ay may community quarantine," Roque said.
(Our existing responses will continue to make sure that we won't regress while we are in community quarantine.)