IN a mammoth five hour meeting yesterday at the Palace, President Duterte asked a panel of experts five questions:
“If ECQ is lifted, what will happen to certain kinds of people?”
“What good will lifting or relaxing ECQ give to certain sectors of society?”
“How many people will die if ECQ is lifted, modified, or retained?”
“Is there a possibility of a second wave of COVID-19 if ECQ is relaxed or lifted?”
“If people are allowed to go out of their homes, is there a danger for the disease to strike anew, or is this really round one of COVID?”
According to newly reappointed Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, who spoke in a press briefing today at lunchtime, the president has not reached a final decision yet on what will happen to the enhanced community quarantine currently imposed over the entire Luzon.
But the panelists' answers to these questions may provide additional guidance to the chief executive.
According to Roque, there appeared to be a consensus among all of them. These experts — including ex-health secretaries Jaime Galvez-Tan, Janette Garin, Esperanza Cabral, as well as Mahar Lagmay from the UP System — said that perhaps the enhanced community quarantine could be eased, depending on how severe the level of COVID-19 is in the area.
“Walang nag-recommend ng total lockdown. Ang naging rekomendasyon lamang i-maintain, i-relax, o i-lift ang ECQ sa iba’t ibang lugar depende nga sa kaso ng COVID-19,” Roque reported.
He added: “There was almost a consensus na ang ECQ ay hindi naman dapat ipatupad sa buong Luzon.”
Lagmay, who was called by Roque to give a special report on what researchers, analysts, and experts from the University of the Philippines found, stressed the importance of data collection to help implement this geography-based lockdown.
While he said that urban centers, particularly Metro Manila, have high numbers of COVID-19 cases, “Marami pa pong lugar na hindi [pa sa outbreak threshold],” he said. “Para makita natin saan mag-aanticipate ng laban, at saan natin ilalagay ang mga resources, ipa-prioritize , para mas maganda ang laban natin.”
On the website tracker endcov.ph, he said developers are working on a way for local government units on the ground to update their data.
Roque did not give a timeline for when the president will make an official announcement regarding the extension, modification, or lifting of the enhanced community quarantine.
“Ang kanyang decision may come today or it may come in April 30,” he said. “Kung anuman ang decision niya, baka ang tao ay lumalabas sa kanilang bahay.”