No agreement among Metro Manila mayors on extended ECQ, says MMDA chief

Angela Coloma, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 14 2021 02:02 PM

An elderly woman inspects the supplemental kit she received from the local government at a neighborhood in Tondo, Manila on August 12, 2021. The kit contains 400 grams of supplemental milk and a box of vitamins which are scheduled to be distributed to 150,000 senior citizens in the city.
An elderly woman inspects the supplemental kit she received from the local government at a neighborhood in Tondo, Manila on August 12, 2021. The kit contains 400 grams of supplemental milk and a box of vitamins which are scheduled to be distributed to 150,000 senior citizens in the city. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA— The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) on Saturday denied a report saying the capital region's mayors have agreed to extend the strictest lockdown level in the region until August 30 amid the continuing threat of the COVID-19 Delta variant.

"The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority denies a news report quoting Parañaque City Mayor Edwin Olivarez that all the metro mayors have agreed to extend the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) until August 30," the MMDA, which is also part of the Metro Manila Council (MMC) or the union of mayors in the capital region, said in a statement Saturday. 

MMDA chairman Benhur Abalos said he was able to talk to Olivarez, chair of MMC, who refuted the article published by the Manila Bulletin and said "no meeting among Metro mayors occurred." The Bulletin has taken down the story on its news website. 

Metro Manila mayors are focused on monitoring COVID-19 cases, and vaccination and financial aid drives for families affected by the restrictions of the stricter enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), the MMDA said. 

Abalos said recommendations to either extend or downgrade the strictest lockdown, expected to last until August 20, will be "based on data, LGU capabilities, and experts' (health and economic) studies.

Metro Manila has been under the strictest lockdown level or the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), as the number of COVID-19 cases continued to rise due to the Delta variant. 

With the government set to announce the new quarantine classification in the region next week, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said there is no basis yet to finalize a decision on extending the ECQ. 

"Walang batayan 'yan sa ngayon kasi aantayin pa natin ang sariwang datos para gumabay sa IATF kung magdedesisyon na ito ba ay ide-deescalate o ie-extend. Wala pa tayo sa ganoong panahon," Vergeire. 

(There is still no basis because we have to wait for fresh data which will guide the IATF on deciding whether or not the lockdown will be deescalated or extended. We are not at that point yet.) 

Authorities have said that areas in the Metro Manila are now either at critical or high risk for COVID-19 as the country saw its second-largest daily rise in coronavirus cases on Friday. 

She also reiterated that the quarantine status for the National Capital Region beyond August 20 is still under discussion, as response to a call by the Department of Trade and Industry to downgrade the lockdown to the less strict modified ECQ (MECQ) as jobs remain restricted. 

"Kailangan nating maintindihan na ECQ or MECQ is not the only answer for us to stop the transmission and lower down the cases. It has to be that we look at all the components of the response, and important po ang response ng local government. Kaya po kami ay nag-iisa-isa ng regional local government officials to guide them," Vergeire said. 

(We have to understand that placing areas under ECQ or MECQ is not the only answer for us to stop transmission and lower down the cases. We have to look at all the components of the response. What's important is the response of the local government, that is why we go through every regional and local official to guide them.) 

In a TeleRadyo interview, Health Secretary Francisco Duque echoed this: “Walang batayan 'yan sa ngayon kasi aantayin pa natin ang sariwang datos para gumabay sa IATF kung magde-desisyon ba na ito ba ay ide-deescalate o i-extend. Wala pa tayo sa ganung panahon."

(There is no basis for that now because we have to wait for the fresh data to guide the IATF in deciding whether to deescalate or extend. We have not reached that point yet.) 

— With reports from Michael Delizo, ABS-CBN News

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