Authorities discuss possible further relaxation of curfew in Metro Manila

Benise Balaoing, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 01 2021 12:18 PM

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MANILA – Curfew in the Philippine capital may further be eased in the coming days, Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) chairman Benhur Abalos said Monday.

“In fact, nag-uusap na ang mga alkalde as we are talking right now. Inaayos ko na rin yung draft of the resolution, if ever. Nagkakabotohan kasi. Pagkaboto nila, I have to draft the resolution. And then, they will have to sign it, by e-signature, bawat isa,” Abalos told ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo.

“So in the, probably... about one or two days, maayos ko na po ito.”

(In fact, as we are talking right now, the mayors are already discussing this. I am also preparing already the draft of the resolution, just in case, because this has to go through voting. Once they have voted, I have to draft the resolution. And then, they will have to sign it by e-signature, one by one. So, probably, in about one or two days, this will be resolved already.)

Metro Manila, home to around 13.5 million people and which accounts for about a third of the country's GDP, is currently implementing a 12 midnight to 4 a.m. curfew as part of anti-COVID measures.

Abalos said the curfew adjustment is also part of their discussion with mall owners in preparation for the Christmas season.

“Last week, nakipag-usap kami sa tinatawag na mall operators. Eto yung of course (SM), Robinsons, Vista Mall, Ayala Mall, lahat ho sila. And kung maaari, imbis na from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., gawin nila from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., even 12 at that. At wala na sanang sale during the ordinary weekdays, Monday-Friday kundi tuwing Sabado’t Linggo na lang, if it’s possible, during the holiday.”

(Last week, we talked to mall operators - SM, Robinsons, Vista Mall, Ayala Mall, all of them. We are proposing for a change of operation time from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., to 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. or even 12 midnight. We also hope they don't go on sale during ordinary weekdays or from Monday to Friday. Instead, they just hold it on Saturdays and Sunday, if possible, during the holidays.) 

“Bakit? Para 'wag tayong magkasabay-sabay sa kalye, dahil nakikita na natin andami ng volume. And by the way, ang volume natin before is 405,000, this is 2019, bago mag-pandemya. Ngayon, 398,000 na tayo. So ganoon na kadami ang vehicles, but then maganda naman ang daloy ng takbo. From 11 kilometers per hour, naging 23.”

(Why? So we minimize the people utilizing the roads, especially now that we are seeing an increasing in volume of vehicles. In 2019, before the pandemic, the volume of vehicles is 405,000. Now, it's at 398,000 already. That's how many vehicles there are now, although traffic is still okay - from 11 kilometers per hours, it's up to 23 now.)

Abalos said mall owners agree with the proposal, but they are asking for an adjustment in the curfew for the benefit of their workers. 

“Pumayag naman ang mga malls. Sabi nila, 'Okay, Chairman. But there are two things ang kinakabahala namin. Number one, it’s the curfew. Kung gagawin nating 11, papaano uuwi yung mga empleyado namin, it’s almost curfew?'”

(The malls agreed. They said, 'Okay, Chairman. But we have two concerns. Number one, it's the curfew. If operate until 11 p.m., how can our workers go home?')

“And number two, yung ating mga public utility vehicle, which has been addressed by the meeting of the IATF, pinayagan na ang 70 percent capacity. So because of these things, yun nga yung sa curfew, pinag-usapan ng mga alkalde po ito.”

(And number two, our public utility vehicle, which has been addressed by the meeting of the IATF by allowing 70 percent capacity. So, because of these things, the mayors are discussing the possible relaxation of the curfew.)

Meanwhile, Abalos said plastic barriers in jeepneys and other public utility vehicles may already be removed if these are not serving their purpose anymore.

“Kung wala naman silang silbi, siguro i-mandato na lang tanggalin. Kasi, baka mamaya, iisipin niyo nga, there’s this false sense of security, na secured ako, tapos yung umupo roon ayun pala yung may sakit at lalo na dumikit sa plastic 'di ba. These kind of things.”

(It's better to order the removal if it doesn't have any purpose anymore. People may get a false sense of security. They may feel secured, but another passenger who occupied the space may have the disease and actually touched the plastic.) 

“Kung kailangan tanggalin, mas mabuting tanggalin na lang. Mag-mask na lang parati. Kung kailangan pang ibang face shield o kung ano pang gamitin, yun na lang ang gamitin,” he added.

(If these can be removed already, just do so. Just always wear your mask. If there's a need to wear face shields or other necessary things, continue using them.)

--TeleRadyo, 1 November 2021