Lockdown declared in Metro Manila
Lockdown enforced in Metro Manila; no flights, classes until April; lifts travel ban to China
MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte addressed the nation that lasted for an hour and four minutes shortly after 8:00 P.M. Thursday where he declared Metro Manila under “community quarantine” also known as “lockdown” characterized by the suspension of air travel, work and classes.
“The threat from COVID-19 is a serious one, it is true and your government is doing everything possible, so please cooperate by observing social distancing and strictly following guidelines issued by the Department of Health,” President Duterte said in Pilipino.
He explained a province be declared under quarantine should there be at least two COVID-19 positive patients in different towns, independent or component cities as local government units which have declared a state of calamity in their area would be allowed to use government funds to respond to the community’s requirements.
President Duterte said work under the Executive Branch will be suspended but agencies are required to put its own skeletal force to address the needs of the government. He also encouraged the private sector to implement a flexible work arrangement where the Departments of Labor and Employment and Trade and Industry would issue appropriate guidelines to protect both the workers and employers’ interests. Businesses dealing with manufacturing, service and retail are advised to remain open with their respective managements observing social distancing.
Trains under the Philippine National Railways, Metro Rail Transit and Light Rail Transit will continue operation but should strictly adhere to Department of Transportation’s guidelines.
Domestic air and sea and bus travel will be suspended by Sunday, March 15 until April 14,2020 as President Duterte raised the alert level to Code Red Sub-Level 2, the highest in the four-door criteria set by Health authorities which is described as a condition due to “sustained community transmission beyond capacity.”
Under the declaration, the government is expected to adopt epidemiologic linkage, imposition of community quarantine or lockdown, suspension of work or classes; augmentation of medical staff from unaffected communities or regions and the utilization of uniformed personnel which include the police and the military.
“It’s a lockdown but there’s no Martial Law or struggle for power as it is a matter of protecting and defending you from COVID-19 as it is an issue of public interest and public health,” he said.
He said village chiefs or barangay officials are persons in authority and should be able to enforce the quarantine.
President Duterte said he lacks police and military operatives to attend to various concerns and would make him relay on barangay captains to keep order in their areas
He also said they will be monitoring the impact of the lockdown after seven days after the signing of a still un-numbered Executive Order to be released soon.
He also lifted the return of Filipino workers employed in China provided they are not traveling to Hubei province.
“The Overseas Filipino Workers returning to their work in different parts of China are now allowed to return to their work provided they are informed of the risks of their travel back to their work sites,” he added.
Chinese President Xi Jinping wrote a letter to President Duterte where the former vowed to help the Philippines should a need arise.
“President Xi Jinping wrote me a letter where he said he is willing to help the Philippines and all we have to do is ask after he has successfully managed the COVID-19 crisis in his country,” President Duterte said. He said he told President Xi that he appreciates the offer but hopes there would be no need for the Chinese government’s assistance.
In closing, President Duterte said he will call on the police and the military should the situation deteriorates. He also assured his audience that there are sufficient structure to assure his audience of the whole of government’s efforts to contain the COVID-19 threat. (Melo M. Acuña)
President Rodrigo Duterte. (EagleNews Photo)