Palace: MECQ extension ‘possible, but highly unlikely’
MANILA, Philippines — While the extension of the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) over Mega Manila is possible, Malacañang said Tuesday it is “highly unlikely” because the government could no longer provide cash assistance to residents affected by the lockdown.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque was asked during an online press conference whether there is a possibility that MECQ in Metro Manila, Rizal, Bulacan Cavite, and Laguna will be extended. President Rodrigo Duterte restored MECQ in these areas from August 4 to 18 as COVID-19 cases continue to increase.
“Ang tanong kung posible, ang sagot ko, anything is possible but highly unlikely,” he said.
(The question is if it’s possible, my answer is that anything is possible but highly unlikely.)
The President said Monday that he would want the lockdown to remain to prevent further spread of COVID-19 but also noted it was time to let Filipinos return to their jobs given that the government had run out of funds for cash aid distribution.
This, after former adviser of the National Task Force on COVID-19 Dr. Tony Leachon suggested extending the MECQ to build up the country’s healthcare capacity.
“Malinaw naman po ang Presidente. Talagang ang pinakamabisa pong paraan para mapababa ang numero ay patagalin ang MECQ o kaya ang ECQ. Ang problema po, wala na po tayong pang-ayuda,” Roque said.
(The President made it clear. The most efficient way to suppress the numbers is by MECQ or ECQ. But the problem is we don’t have funds for cash assistance anymore.)
“Yung mga taong hindi makapagtrabaho baka mamatay dahil sa kawalan ng hanapbuhay. Unless si Dr. Leachon po ay pupuwede magbigay ng ayuda sa lahat ng nais niya na mapasailalim sa MECQ ng dalawang linggo. Hindi na po talga kakayanin,” he added.
(The people who can’t go to work might die due to loss of jobs. Unless Dr. Leachon can give cash aid to residents of areas under MECQ. But it cannot be done anymore.)
Roque stressed that the government will focus on strengthening its strategy to trace, test, and treat more people since Metro Manila loses P18 billion a day while under MECQ.
“Sa Metro Manila po ang estimate nila, hindi po bababa sa P18 billion kada araw ang nawawala kada araw ng MECQ. Mas malaki pa po ang mawawala kung mag-e-ECQ,” Roque said.
(In Metro Manila, their estimate is that no less than P18 billion is lost every day under MECQ. The figure is bigger under ECQ.)
“Pero ang Presidente naman po, straightforward, transparent. Wala na pong ayuda para doon sa mga hindi makapagtrabaho kaya kinakailangan po mabuhay despite and in spite, protektahan po natin ang ating kalusugan nang tayo po’y makasulong sa ating pang araw araw na buhay,” he added.
(But our President is straightforward, transparent. There is no more cash aid for those who cannot work that’s why we need to live despite and in spite [of COVID-19], let’s protect our health so we can proceed with our everyday lives.)
On Monday, the Philippines recorded another record-high of 6,958 new COVID-19 infections nationwide, bringing the total to 136,638.
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