President Rodrigo Duterte has placed the entire Luzon under “enhanced community quarantine” effective immediately to control the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) outbreak in the country, Malacañang said on Monday.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo bared this without giving any further details as Duterte is expected to make a public address on government measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19 after meeting with members of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.

He said the meeting is supposed to correct the problems encountered during the first two days of the community quarantine including commuters having difficulty getting rides due to the limited number of public utility vehicles (PUVs) on the road.

Under the memorandum signed by Malacañang on Friday, an “enhanced” community quarantine requires “strict” home quarantine in all households, suspends transportation, regulates food and essential health services, and heightens uniformed personnel’s presence to enforce quarantine procedures.

In an interview over ANC, Panelo said enhanced community quarantine refers to a “total lockdown”.

“We have this community quarantine two days ago, we are just expanding it,” he said.

He explained that this means there will no longer be a need for the public to travel unless for “medical and humanitarian reasons”.

“It means we will have to stay at home. Work will be suspended. The general rule is there is a suspension of work,” he said.

As for government services, he said workers will remain on “skeletal force”.

Since the public will be forced to stay home, he assured that food and essential needs will be delivered in homes care of the respective local government units (LGUs).

He said a provision for food and essential services will be regulated, meaning respective LGUs will have to create a system where food and essential needs will be delivered to the homes of the communities.

“In other words, we will not allow a rush to getting food and supplies because there will be sufficient food and supply,” he said.

In an earlier press briefing the same day, Panelo bared that Interior Secretary Eduardo Año is supportive of a “total lockdown” in Metro Manila to prevent the number of infected persons from rising.

“Si Secretary Año, ay ‘yun din ang nirerekomenda. ‘Yan din ang nirerekomenda ko (This is what Secretary Año is recommending. It is also what I’m recommending). Because this is a matter of national survival. We have to be resigned to that fact. This is a matter of life and death. The only way to stop this is for us to help ourselves,” he said in a Palace briefing.

He, however, clarified that it would be up to Duterte to evaluate and decide whether a total lockdown would be necessary.

Besides the surge in the number of infected persons, he said Duterte will also assess whether the community quarantine in place is effective in restricting the movement of Filipinos.

Citing reports, he observed that commuters still gather in one area to catch a jeep or bus ride without observing social distancing.

“We really have to asses kung effective yung ginagawa nating ganitong uri ng hindi strict na implementasyon (if our implementation of these not so strict protocols are effective),” he said.

He said Año is looking at replicating South Korea’s version of the lockdown model which also provides massive free testing and treatment.

Asked to clarify what he meant by total lockdown, he said: “A total lockdown would be closing off all establishments. It would mean also walang pasok lahat. Kumbago lahat kayo nasa bahay (there would be no classes in all levels. All of you will stay home).”

Should the proposed total lockdown be implemented, he said the entry of food supply will not be halted.

“Hindi natin hihintuin ang pagpasok ng food supply kasi mahalaga ‘yun e and most likely siguro hindi dapat saraduhan ang mga grocery, ang palengke (We cannot stop the entry of food supply because that’s important and most likely we shouldn’t close groceries, markets),” he said. (PNA photo by Oliver Marquez)

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