Some LGUs appeal for stricter community quarantine

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 13) — As quarantine restrictions are relaxed in several areas, some local government officials are appealing to the national government to reinstate stricter lockdown rules.

Metro Manila, the province of Laguna, and Cebu City are the only areas under modified enhanced community quarantine after May 15. The rest of the country will either be under general community quarantine or completely have no lockdown restrictions.

The mayors of Cebu City, Mandaue, and Lapu-Lapu formally appealed to the national government's COVID-19 task force to place their cities under ECQ — the strictest form of community quarantine enforced in the country.

Cebu City is under MECQ, while Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu will be on GCQ from May 16 to 31.

"We understand the importance to start up the economy, but this should not be at the expense of the health and safety of our people," Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella, Mandaue Mayor Jonas Cortes, and Lapu-Lapu Mayor Junard Chan wrote on Tuesday.

Labella said the three cities have already conducted calibrated COVID-19 testing on over 10,000 individuals. Of the 1,600 who tested positive, over 90 percent did not show flu-like symptoms — which shows the dangers of allowing people to move more freely.

Meanwhile, the local executive of Borongan City — which is no longer under any form of community quarantine — fears of COVID-19 spread without lockdown rules.

Mayor Jose Ivan Dayan Agda asked Eastern Samar governor and the regional IATF to place the city under ECQ or GCQ from May 16 to 31.

He said Borongan City does not have any intensive care medical equipment to protect residents from a possible outbreak. The city remains free of COVID-19, but Agda is worried this might soon change with the easing of lockdown guidelines.

"We believe the reason why our city remains free from COVID-19 was because of our timely imposition of strict community quarantine and the lifting thereof at this time would render all our efforts ineffective and useless," the mayor wrote.

Navotas City in Metro Manila, which is under MECQ, will remain under strict quarantine rules.

Navotas Mayor Toby Tiangco said the city will enforce stricter ECQ rules until June 1 to contain the spread of COVID-19 in the city. It's not clear if the city has been designated as such by the

Inter-Agency Task Force or if it has obtained clearance to continue with the ECQ restrictions.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on Tuesday explained that under the modified ECQ, authorities will allow the limited reopening of select manufacturing and processing plants. More businesses are expected to be allowed to resume operations when the COVID-19 task force finalizes the list. Because there will be work in reopened industries, there will also be "limited transportation services."

Local government officials are given the authority to place high-risk barangays with spikes of COVID-19 cases under stringent ECQ rule.

The modified enhanced community quarantine as a "transition phase" to a relaxed general community quarantine, Roque added.