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Rest of Luzon placed under lockdown

16 March 2020

President Duterte during his televised address.

President Rodrigo Duterte today declared the rest of Luzon under “enhanced community quarantine” to fight Covid-19 until midnight of April 13, after two days of Metro-Manila wide lockdown appeared to have failed to prevent crowds congregating in transportation chokepoints.

The problem became apparent as early as dawn today, the first Monday of the metrowide lockdown, when people entering Metro Manila to work crowded main arteries at boundaries such as the one dividing Valenzuela and Meycauayan, Bulacan. Traffic queue as long as two kilometers were reported as police and military personnel checked the temperature of people aboard all vehicles. They also imposed social distancing rules which require people to be at least a meter from each other, even inside vehicles.


A soldier tries his hand at crowd control as pedestrians line up for temperature and ID checks

Even within Metro Manila, social distancing was hardly observed as passengers crowded into MRT and LRT stations for their ride to work.


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Health officials have so far reported that 142 people have tested positive for Covid-19, 12 of whom died and three recovered.

In a televised address in front of his top officials in Malacanang, the President also said the government will implement stricter home quarantine, suspend mass transportation, regulate the provision for food and essential health services; and increase the number of police and soldiers enforcing the quarantine.

Public transportation will be suspended as part of the expanded lockdown (PDI photo)

But he was quick to explain: “Hindi ito martial law, wag kayong matatakot. Walang magdidisplay ng baril diyan except ‘yung mga member ng Armed Forces o Pulis. Ang kalaban natin pag martial law ay yung mga taong sumasalakay at naghihimagsik pero sa panahong ito ang kalaban natin ay tayo at ang sakit na COVID-19.”


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Duterte also assured that food supplies will be sufficient.

“I have been assured (by) Ramon Ang mismo of San Miguel and the other food conglomerates that there will be sufficient food. There will be no hunger in the coming weeks because we have enough supplies,” he said.

 The president told barangay captains to ensure that food reaches the poorest in their communities.

 “The barangay captains should call a number and at least food, rice and some, ano, ulam, puwede niyong ibigay para sa ating mga kababayan,” Duterte said. “If you violate this, you can be liable for dereliction of duty.”


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The president also paid tribute for the first time to the frontline medical staff who had been battling the disease.

"In due time,” he said, “we shall express to them our gratitude in a more tangible way, when this crisis is over. In the meantime, I have directed the DBM [Department of Budget and Management] and DOH [Department of Health] to find a way to best compensate our health workers."

Several concerned individuals and establishments, however, beat him to it by  showing their appreciation for healthcare workers by sending food packs to doctors and nurses in selected hospitals in Metro Manila. The food packs contained hot meals, cups of coffee, vitamins, and face masks.


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Vice President Leni Robredo also began her own project for the medical personnel.

“Gaya ng pangako natin, sinimulan na natin ngayong araw ang pag-distribute ng unang batch ng Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Daily Sets sa ating mga health workers at frontliners na nangunguna sa laban kontra COVID-19. Naglaan ang ating opisina ng P5.9 million para mabili ang mga ito, dagdag pa sa P8.9 million na nakalap natin sa ating online donation drive sa tulong ng ating Angat Buhay partner Kaya Natin!,” she said in a message. “Sa kabuoan, nakalikom na tayo ng higit P14.9 million para sa ating frontliners. Gagamitin natin ito para makabili ng 31,245 na PPE sets at 5,659 food and care packages para sa ating mga frontliners at kanilang mga pamilya.”

The vans that delivered VP Robredo's PPE donations to health workers and medical staff

President Duterte also urged businesses to pitch in, by paying in advance their employees’ 13-month pay, even on a pro-rate basis. “Yun sanang malalaking enterprises dito, maybe you can consider paying the 13th month pay or just paying them maski kalahati sa sweldo nila as a way of showing your solidarity with the Filipino at this critical time,” he said.

For its part, San Miguel Corp. saud in a statement it would operate 24/7 to ensure that the company’s supply chain is stable and enough to provide food for Filipinos nationwide for the next several months. “We have the capability to produce enough for everybody and deliver to supermarkets,” said 
SMC president Ramon Ang said. “This isn’t about making profits. We have a responsibility to make sure that food is made available to as many people as possible.” he added.

Ang added that other SMC businesses, such as Petron Corp. SMC Global Power Holdings Corp., and SMC Infrastructure will continue to operate. “We will provide essential services such as food, water, power, petrol products and beverages to everyone,” he said.

Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, Chairman and CEO of Ayala Corporation, also assured the public that “all necessary measures are being implemented to ensure uninterrupted services in critical areas such as telecommunications, water distribution in our franchise areas, cash availability and access to our clinics and generics pharmacies.”
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