Duterte says he is reconsidering to place Metro Manila under MGCQ

The Chinese military aircraft carrying China’s donation of 600,000 doses of Sinovac’s Covid-19 vaccine arrives in the Philippines Sunday, Feb. 28, 2021. Photo courtesy of PCOO

MANILA, Philippines — With the arrival of the first batch of Covid-19 vaccines to the Philippines, President Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday said he is reconsidering whether to place Metro Manila under the more relaxed modified general community quarantine (MGCQ).

He said he may consider further opening the economy once the Philippines gets at least 2 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines.

“I am considering it, actually. Our economy is really down, as in down. So the earlier na mabilisan itong vaccine, the better,” he said in a press conference after the turnover of Sinovac vaccines in Villamor Air Base in Pasay City.

“‘Pag nag-umpisa na ‘yang rollout and the other vaccines that would come in and distributed to the provinces, siguro pagdating, magkaroon na tayo ng stock na 2 million, bitawan ko na, I will open the economy,” he added.

(Once the roll-out starts and other vaccines would come in and be distributed to the provinces, if we have at least a stock of 2 million vaccine doses, I will open the economy.)

He pointed out that Filipinos will only perish if the economy is still not opened due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Talagang hirap tayo, you know people have to eat, people have to work, people have to pay and the only way to do it is to open the economy and for businesses to regrow. Without that, patay talaga. Mahihirapan tayo,” he said.

In March, Metro Manila and nine other areas will remain under general community quarantine while the rest of the country will be placed under MGCQ, presidential spokesman Harry Roque earlier announced.

The National Economic Development Authority, which was backed by the government’s Covid-19 task force and Metro Manila mayors, earlier proposed to place the whole country under MGCQ to help restart the economy.

However, President Duterte rejected this proposal as long as there is no vaccine rollout in the country.

On Sunday, 600,000 Covid-19 doses from Chinese drugmaker Sinovac Biotech, which were donated by the government of China, arrived in the Philippines, signaling the start of the government’s vaccination program.

Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. said vaccinations will start on Monday, March 1.