It’s final: Metro Manila, 6 areas under GCQ in November

MANILA, Philippines — It’s final.

The general community quarantine (GCQ) will remain in the National Capital Region, the provinces of Batangas and Lanao del Sur and in the cities of Iloilo, Bacolod, Tacloban and Iligan for the entire November.

The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) announced the decision after the deadline to appeal the classification lapsed the other day.

“All other areas are under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ),” presidential spokesman Harry Roque Jr. said yesterday.

Last Monday, President Duterte announced that a majority of local mayors favor the retention of Metro Manila under GCQ to avoid increased contamination of COVID-19.

“Majority of the mayors want to make it permanent because they have seen the goodness of the result, that it has considerably lowered the number of people who are infected with the microbe. So, they want this. I think it’s for your welfare,” he said.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the recommendations were good as approved but local government units had been given until Oct. 28 to appeal before the IATF.

With strict reminders to wear masks, face shields and follow health protocols, Duterte explained to the public that the government has placed primary consideration on the welfare of the general population in deciding the quarantine status.

“Look, we are not here to make your life miserable or sad. We are here to make your life comfortable and to make you happy,” he said. “So, what’s the point of working on these figures if it does not do anything good?”

Duterte said the government is waiting for development of a vaccine, adding the cases will continue to persist until a vaccine is found. The Chief Executive added he prefers to procure the vaccines from China or Russia through government-to-government transactions.

Meanwhile, Sen. Grace Poe batted for better response to calamities and swift aid to victims as floods and typhoons hammer the country amid the pandemic, leaving provinces submerged and affected residents flocking to evacuation centers.

“In the midst of a calamity, our kababayans have no other hope but the immediate help of the whole government,” Poe said in Filipino.

Poe earlier filed Senate Bill No. 124 or the “Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management System Act” that advocates for local government units (LGUs) to ‘build back better,’ delimiting their duties from recovering to rebuilding communities to become more resilient to future calamities.

The bill seeks to reform disaster risk reduction management institutions by establishing the Department of Disaster Resilience and Emergency Assistance and Management that will also consist of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.

The department will be led by its own secretary who will provide leadership with accountability and steer the country toward becoming disaster-resilient.

Typhoon Quinta left in its wake fishermen still missing in Catanduanes as well as damaged homes and infrastructure in Pola, Oriental Mindoro. Prior to that, Typhoon Pepito displaced more than 5,000 people in three regions: Cagayan Valley (Region 2), Calabarzon (Region 4A) and Central Luzon (Region 3).

In Lopez, Quezon alone, Pepito affected 1,637 households where more than a thousand families had to leave their homes and stay in evacuation centers.

Poe has organized a team of staff and volunteers to dispatch relief packs from her office to affected farmers of Lopez, Quezon through Panday Bayanihan to help sustain them as they await help and recovery.

The farmers lost their crops in the flooding which submerged their barangays in waist-high waters.

Each relief pack handed out by Poe’s team consisted of five kilos of rice, three cans of corned beef, three cans of meatloaf, noodles and coffee. — Cecille Suerte Felipe

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