President Rodrigo Duterte delivered an almost hour-long national address on Tuesday but failed to announce plans for the country after May 15, the scheduled end of enhanced community quarantine in several areas in the Philippines.
The chief executive was expected to bare the government’s plans about whether or not the enhanced community quarantine will be extended in the National Capital Region following his meeting with members of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) on Monday night.
Metro Manila, including a number of provinces such as the Calabarzon Region, Bulacan, Pampanga and Nueva Ecija, among others, are currently under an enhanced community quarantine until May 15.
After the said date, the Palace earlier said these areas could either have an extension of the current quarantine protocol or a graduate towards the general community quarantine, also known as the “new normal.”
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque late Monday said they “might” broadcast the address, although he added that it was “preliminary agreed” upon to air it this morning.
However, when the recorded national address was finally aired Tuesday morning, Filipinos noticed that the address lacked any mention about the fate of Metro Manila and other regions currently placed under an enhanced community quarantine.
Duterte mentioned that there would be an easing of restrictions but didn’t touch upon the specific areas which would maintain an enhanced quarantine or those that would shift to a general community quarantine.
In his address, the president cautioned the public that easing the restrictions will not mean an end towards the coronavirus disease.
Duterte also said that the country cannot afford a second or a third wave of the virus.
He also talked about the armed forces, the distribution of the government’s cash aid through the social amelioration program and the New People’s Army.
Aside from these, Duterte also greeted mothers and acknowledged mothers who lost their children to the fight against the novel coronavirus.
The recorded and edited national address ended without the much-anticipated decision or guidelines about the quarantine measures to be imposed on Metro Manila and other regions.
ECQ Season 4?
The hashtag “#ECQSeason4,” otherwise known as “enhanced community quarantine season four” then trended on local Twitter following the speech.
Using this hashtag, Filipinos wondered whether the enhanced community quarantine would be extended, given the government’s past decisions about the measure.
A Filipino summarized what he got from Duterte’s recorded address and quipped that “NPA,” which was one of the things the chief executive talked about, could be translated as “no permanent answer” instead.
Question: ECQ or GCQ?
Answer : NPA (No Permanent Answer)#ECQSeason4
— Edgar Concepcion jr⛔ (@Edgar04064276) May 12, 2020
Keywords “ECQ or GCQ” also became the top trending topic on Twitter Philippines with several online users looking for the government’s final decision and criticizing Duterte’s latest national address.
“Duterte dismayed people of this announcement without addressing changes or it will remain under ecq or gcq but to focus on the military. Haaaay,” a Twitter user said.
Duterte initially placed Luzon under an enhanced community quarantine from March 17 to April 12. It was eventually extended to April 30 following the recommendations of IATF.
Last April 24, the government announced that it would be extended up to May 15, but only on Metro Manila and other regions that have a high number of COVID-19 cases. Others, meanwhile, have shifted to general community quarantine.
Meanwhile, early Tuesday, Cavite Gov. Jonvic Remulla announced that Metro Manila and Laguna will remain under enhanced community quarantine while Cavite province will be placed under general community quarantine despite no official word from the national government yet.
Roque is set to announce the final decision on his press briefing at 12 noon.