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IATF to discuss NCR mayors’ proposal 

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The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) will discuss on Thursday the proposal of Metro Manila mayors to implement a two-week enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in the country’s metropolis amid the threat of Delta variant of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), according to a report by Philippine News Agency.

This, after Metro Manila mayors have expressed readiness for the imposition of ECQ, the strictest quarantine classification, as long as the national government can provide cash assistance to affected individuals.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the IATF-EID’s decision on the recommendation of the local executives in Metro Manila will depend on the availability of funds to grant financial aid in case their localities are placed under ECQ.

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“Palagi po nating pinakikinggan ang ating mga alkalde dahil sila po ang magpapatupad ng mga polisiya. Kaya nga po ngayong hapon ay pakikinggan po ng IATF ang ating mga alkalde (We always listen to our mayors because they are implementing our policies. That’s why the IATF will listen to the mayors’ proposal this afternoon),” Roque said in an online press briefing.

Roque, however, admitted that the government lacks sufficient fund to heed the mayors’ request for a cash assistance.

He noted the government took two weeks to approve the recommendation to provide assistance to individuals living in Iloilo City and its province, Cagayan de Oro, and the City of Gingoog in Misamis Oriental which are currently under ECQ.

“Kung ang kanilang rekomendasyon po ay para sa ECQ ay kasama ang pamimigay ng ayuda, hindi ko alam kung may ayudang mabibigay (If their recommendation is to impose ECQ as long as there is an assistance, I do not know where will we get the funds for the assistance),” Roque said. “If there will be decision to declare ECQ pursuant to the request of the mayors, it will be contingent on the ayuda na pupuwedeng ibigay (the assistance that we can give).”

Roque, nevertheless, said the government is expected to collect PHP41 billion worth of excise tax from Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corporation.

The PHP41-billion excise tax collection, Roque said, will be tapped to boost the government’s Covid-19 response efforts.

“Ito po ay dahil nanalo po ang ating gobyerno dito sa kaso na nakabinbin sa Korte Suprema (We will be having that money because the government won the case filed before the Supreme Court [against the Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corporation]),” Roque said. “Magagamit natin itong PHP41 bilyon sa ating mga pangangailangan, lalung-lalo na ngayong panahon ng pandemya (We can use that PHP41 billion to sustain our needs, especially amid the pandemic).”

The Metro Manila mayors have expressed willingness to impose an ECQ in an effort to prevent the spread of a more infectious Delta variant.

However, Duterte, in his pre-recorded Talk to the People on Wednesday night, merely approved the IATF-EID’s proposal to extend the implementation of GCQ “with heightened restrictions” in Metro Manila until August 15.

Roque said the quarantine classifications for the month of August are still subject to LGUs’ appeal.

He said the IATF-EID’s decision on LGUs’ appeal would be “based on science”.

“Bagama’t we cannot absolutely predict the future, lahat po ng hakbang na ginagawa ng IATF (the IATF’s action) is based on science, the most reasonable and the most scientific decision that we can take,” Roque said. 


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