The majority of Metro Manila mayors are in favor of the easing or downgrading to MGCQ (modified general quarantine) status for the 20 million residents beginning March 1, it was disclosed.
The MGCQ is the most relaxed form of lockdown being enforced by the National Covid10 Task Force.
This sentiment was arrived at during a meeting last week of the 17-member Metro Manila Council, chaired by Paranaque Mayor Edwin Olivares.
However, Olivares said the ultimate decision regarding the issue rests on the shoulders of President Duterte.
The most important factor going against the MGCQ downgrade is the chilling observation of the World Health Organization (WHO) that a “major spike” in Covid19 cases may result, considering the government’s rollout of the much-anticipated vaccination program is still twisting in the wind.
WHO country representative Rabindra Abeyasinghe warned that the premature granting of MGCQ at this stage might lead to “widespread transmission of Covid.”
Abeyasinghe noted that it would still take several months before a big percentage of Filipinos receive the vaccine to achieve herd immunity, and everyday life attainst some degree of normalcy.
One mayor, who asked not to be quoted, told Republika he had voted to MGCQ because thousands of his constituents could hardly make ends meet, most businesses are struggling to stay open and the local government is fast running out of funds to support those adversely impacted by the lockdown.
Earlier, the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) recommended to Malacanang to place the entire country under MGCQ next month to address hunger and income losses cause by the one-year lockdown.
The NEDA said the economy is nearing its breaking point as most businesses are not permitted to fully operate by the IATF, and workers cannot earn a proper living to sustain their respective families.
NEDA stressed there is a need to balance the suppression of Covid19 and reviving the economy.
“People are literally dying of hunger,” they said.