President Rodrigo Duterte extended the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) in the NCR Plus bubble (Metro Manila, Bulacan, Rizal, Cavite, and Laguna) until May 14.
The President also directed mayors and barangay captains to take the lead in enforcing regulations on social distancing and health protocols as he expressed frustration over the high number of COVID-19 cases recorded daily.
“There is a national health emergency and with that comes also the power of the state to control whatever there is to control to promote public health. That is within the power of the president,” he said in a public address Wednesday evening.
“Under the police powers of the state, the mayors and the barangay captains, because they are persons of authority, they are the ones who should be responsible for the enforcement of the law. Guidance is only given to the police because the supervision belongs to the mayor.”
“So this is what I will do: I will hold responsible -- under the law -- that the barangay captain should enforce the law. Concurrently, the mayor and the barangay captain are responsible for the enforcement of the law, especially if it is a penal law with a corresponding jail term,” the President said.
Duterte said he will direct Interior Secretary Eduardo Año “to hold the mayors responsible for these kind of [spreader] events happening in their places.”
“Everytime I see people violating the law, I would just say to whoever is seated next to me, ‘See, tomorrow there will be a spike again.’ And true enough. And it will never be an ending story until all Filipinos are vaccinated. There will always be a rise and maybe exponential surge of COVID if you do not follow the laws,” he said.
“It is a violation of the law and if you do not enforce the law, there is a dereliction of duty which is punishable under the Revised Penal Code. So the DILG can proceed against you for not doing your duty as mayor or as a barangay captain.”
“Especially for barangay captains -- the barangay is small. Do not give me the excuse that you do not know a [potential spreader event] is happening. The DiLG will go after you administratively and criminally,” Duterte added.
The President also apologized for extending the MECQ but said it was a necessary action to take.
“My fellow countrymen, I am sorry I have to impose a longer MECQ, because it is necessary. There is a spike of infections, and our hospitals are full,” he said.
The two-week extension of MECQ, Duterte said, was sought by healthcare workers as well as Health Secretary Francisco Duque III.
“I know you are mad (at this extension). Please just get mad at me because I cannot really do anything (but stop the spread of the virus),” he added.
The City of Santiago and Quirino town in Isabela as well as Abra province will also be under MECQ from May 1 to May 31, 2021.
The areas under the more relaxed General Community Quarantine for the entire month of May are as follows: Apayao, Baguio City, Benguet, Ifugao, Kalinga, Mountain Province, Cagayan, Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya, Batangas, Quezon, Tacloban City, Iligan City, Davao City, and Lanao del Sur. The rest of the country will remain under modified GCQ.
Meanwhile, a new curfew policy will be enforced in the National Capital Region beginning Saturday (May 1).
The new curfew hours will be from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m., three hours shorter than the previous 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. period.
Members of the Metro Manila Council agreed and signed a resolution on Tuesday imposing the standard and unified curfew hours following a significant drop of COVID-19 cases in NCR.
The MMC is composed of the 17 mayors in Metro Manila.
Some of the local executives said the adjustment would help businesses to recoup losses during the pandemic, noting that the health crisis has already affected a huge number of business establishments, particularly those in the food and retail industries.
The Philippines logged on Wednesday 6,895 new cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), bringing the total to 1,020,495, while death toll breached 17,000 as 115 new fatalities were reported, bringing the total to 17,031.
The total deaths are 1.67 percent of the total.
One laboratory failed to operate on Monday, while five other laboratories failed to submit their data on time, the Department of Health reported.
New recoveries were logged at 10,739, bringing the total recoveries to 935,695, which is 91.7 percent of the total.
The DOH reported 67,769 active cases, which is 6.6 percent of the total.
The DOH also reported that nationwide, 63 percent of the ICU beds, 48 percent of the isolation beds, 50 percent of the ward beds, and 47 percent of the ventilators were utilized.