Curfew returns as NCR marks 1st community quarantine anniversary

March 15, 2021 - 2:49 PM
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A police officer mans a checkpoint at a village under lockdown amid rising coronavirus disease (COVID-19) infections, in Manila, Philippines, March 12, 2021. (Reuters/Eloisa Lopez)

One year ago on this day, the first community quarantine was imposed over National Capital Region to supposedly help curb COVID-19 infections.

A year later, the transmission of the virus which causes of COVID-19 was still not contained.

Due to the continuous surge of cases in the region, the Metro Manila Council have agreed to implement a two-week curfew starting Monday, March 15, 2021.

Curfew hours are from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.

In retrospect, President Rodrigo Duterte declared a 30-day community quarantine and raised Code Red Sublevel 2 over Metro Manila on March 12, 2020 due to the spike of cases.

Back then, the quarantine was supposed to run from March 15 to April, 2020 only.

The country was also only dealing with 47 confirmed infections and 47 deaths.

Among the restrictions entailed in the previous heightened alert were:

  1. All land, domestic air and sea travel to and from Metro Manila
  2. Work-from-home arrangements are encouraged, rather than enforced
  3. Workers outside the National Capital Region should present an identification card before entry
  4. Checkpoints will be imposed at NCR boundaries

Moreover, it was also the first time that year when the government used the word “quarantine” when the public perceived that the restrictions resembled a “lockdown.”

To allay public fears back then, part of the statement on Code Red Sublevel 2 read:

“To be clear, and to allay the fears and apprehension of the public, the government is essentially calling for a stricter implementation of preventive measures in order to slow down and put a halt to the further spread of COVID-19. While a total and absolute lockdown is considered by some as a valid preventive measure, current circumstances do not warrant such an extreme course of action.”

As of March 14, the Department of Health recorded a total of 621,498 cases. Of these, 48,157 are active, 560,512 have recovered and 12,829 have died.

NCR tops the regions with the highest infections at 256,859.

Happy lockdown anniversary?

Filipinos marked March 15 as the “lockdown anniversary” on social media wherein they aired their sentiments of frustrations, criticisms and past experiences when the situation still seemed to be hopeful.

On March 16 last year, the government declared the expanded the quarantine measures to include the entire Luzon and called it the “enhanced community quarantine.”

“If I knew lang na that was the last day na makikita ko in person yung office crush ko eh di umamin na ko,” one Reddit user said.

“Grabe. Dati tuwang-tuwa ako dahil mawawalan ng pasok for weeks. Pero ngayon, its been a year since the lockdown. Nakakalungkot, nakakabagot, miss ko na mga tao. Happy Anniversary, Community Quarantine,” one Twitter user said.

Others expressed their grievances over the return of the curfew in the form of memes.

One Reddit user posted an artwork that seemed to reflect how government officials, the military and the police kept on passing the blame of the worsening public health crisis to the general public alone.

Isang taon na—sa atin pa rin ang sisi at dusá. from r/Philippines

Some critics expressed their disappointment and ire anew over the current administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Sen. Risa Hontiveros described the entire year as filled with “hypocrisy” and “debt.”

“First anniversay of the lockdown today. a.k.a. 365 days of hypocrisy, P690 billion more in debt. Sampal sa mukha ng taumbayan ang bagong surge na ito,” Hontiveros said.

Only curfew this time

The Philippines is still under quarantine in different phases. NCR, in particular, is under the general community quarantine, a more relaxed version while others with few COVID-19 cases are under the most relaxed phased modified GCQ.

Unlike last year, there is no renewed rule on restricting on-site work and suspending business operations this month.

Marikina City Mayor Marcelino Teodoro previously said that the curfew was placed anew to help enforce the mandated health protocols which became complacent.

“Since we relaxed travel restrictions and other protocols we have on mobility and when we opened up several economic activities, more people came out from their houses [and] from their quarantine. So, our enforcement capacity [wasn’t] able to cope with the number of people outside,” he said.