Duterte reimposes MECQ in Metro Manila, 4 nearby provinces for 15 days
By Celerina Monte
President Rodrigo Duterte approved on Sunday night recommendation to place again Metro Manila and nearby provinces under modified enhanced community quarantine for 15 days amid the continuous surge of coronavirus disease cases in the country.
The decision was reached after Duterte met with key Cabinet officials, including Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, in Malacañang.
MECQ will be reimposed in the National Capital Region, Bulacan, Laguna, Rizal and Cavite for 15 days beginning midnight of August 4 until August 18, said Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque.
In a taped televised meeting, Duque recommended the re-imposition of MECQ, a stricter quarantine protocol which requires restrictions in the movement of people, after the medical organizations asked for a "timeout" as hospitals have been overwhelmed by the surge of COVID-19 cases.
"We agree that your are bone-weary...both of the pressure and also the uncertainty of the fear of getting COVID and not getting anything in return," Duterte said.
"The call of the medical community for a two-week (modified) enhance community quarantine in mega Manila, I fully understand why you health workers would like to ask for such a time out period. They have been in the frontlines for months and are exhausted," he said.
The President said the government could only bank on the health workers as they are educated and trained to face such challenges.
"You are frontliners in the battlefield because you are (learnt) in this field. If no one will help the country and our people, who will I depend on? Don't lose hope. I see and talked to some of you...you stretch your patience and your, not endurance because you can only take so much, stretch your patience and fervor that you are a medical person and we trust your capability. We are aware that you are tired, that you have work almost even beyond 24 hours a day," he added.
Duterte assured that the government would work hard to provide the healthcare workers, particularly those from the private sector, more benefits for their sacrifices.
He said that his administration will push that in the Bayanihan 2 bill, healthcare workers will get life insurance, P10,000 to P15,000 for every healthcare worker that gets sick, free accommodation, free transportation, and free and frequent COVID-19 testing.
He also approved the hiring of additional healthcare workers to augment the current workforce, including the hiring of 10,000 medical professionals and the calling to active duty and enlistment to the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
Duterte said he might also call for a mobilization of military reservists as he specifically mentioned his daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, as one among the first to be called.
In a separate statement, Roque said the President also approved the Cabinet's recommendation to issue work and quarantine passes to minimize movement.
The local government units and the COVID-19 CODE Teams were also directed to intensify the localized lockdown strategy and the implementation of Oplan Kalinga.
The guidelines for minimum health standards will also be strictly enforced and intensified while giving 20 million face masks for the poor, Roque said.
He added that the President also approved the use of RT-PCR (real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction) as gold standard.
As of August 2, COVID-19 cases in the Philippines surged to 103,185, with 65,557 recoveries and 2,059 deaths. DMS