Even quarantine phases are mutating: Netizens lament ‘confusing’ flexible MECQ proposal

April 28, 2021 - 1:25 PM
An armed policeman checks a truck passing by a checkpoint placed to implement a curfew in the country's capital amid rising coronavirus disease (COVID-19) infections, in Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines, March 15, 2021. (Reuters/Eloisa Lopez)

Metro Manila mayors have recommended a new type of quarantine phase called “flexible modified enhanced community quarantine.”

In an interview with GMA’s “Unang Balita” on April 28, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) chair Benhur Abalos said that the members of the Metro Manila Council discussed this in a previous meeting, citing the need to balance public health and the local economy.

“Ang napagkasunduan ng mga alkalde ay parang flexible MECQ. Ang tawag lang nito MECQ with additional business openings. Starting po sa May 1, adjusted na po ang curfew. Hindi na po 8 p.m., 10 p.m. na. Iiklian na po ito. From 10:00 pm to 4:00 am,” Abalos said.

The suggested rules for this new quarantine phase, however, are not yet finalized.

So far, Abalos said here are the mayors’ proposed rules for the flexible MECQ in the National Capital Region:

  • More types of businesses will resume operations, including those in construction activities and personal hygiene services
  • Border control will remain
  • Health protocols will be enforced

The MMC’s recommendations will still be tackled in the next meeting of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID), before it will be up for President Rodrigo Duterte’s approval.

Metro Manila and surrounding provinces Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal or the Greater Manila Area are currently under MECQ until April 30.

In May 2020, Palace introduced the different quarantine classifications that the government initially planned to implement until the country is ready to shift to the “new normal.”

These are:

  1. ECQ
  2. Modified ECQ
  3. GCQ
  4. Modified GCQ
  5. New normal

How the public reacted

While not yet final, some Filipinos criticized the purpose of introducing a new quarantine phase, saying that the government is only confusing the public more.

“I don’t get the point of shifting to a flexible MECQ when MECQ, as defined by the IATF, is already the transition from ECQ to GCQ and the line between MECQ and GCQ has become thinner than before. Make it simple, executives. Extend MECQ or shift to GCQ,” one user said.

“They just resorted to playing with words nowadays. In reality, there’s not much difference really,” another user wrote.

Some users also perceived that the quarantine shifts do not improve the country’s COVID-19 situation.

“Pano ba titigil mutation ng variants dito eh mismong quarantine classification nagmu-mutate,” another user commented.

“Remember when 4,000 daily cases was sufficient to call for an MECQ, but yet no significant COVID infra improvement? Now that we have reached 6,000 to 9,000 new cases/day from a peak of 12,000 to 15,000 per day, it’s okay to loosen restrictions without significant COVID infra improvement…again?” another user said.

Some Filipinos, meanwhile, aired their sentiments against the proposed flexible MECQ in the form of funny memes and gifs.

Others made witty remarks on the term “flexible.”

Twitter user @_QuePasaChica_ even made witty suggestions for quarantine names in the future.

“Now don’t fret, guys. There are many more letters in the alphabet that they can choose from to add to the already confused populace,” the user wrote.

Last month, online users also poked fun at the “NCR Plus” term introduced by the government to refer to Greater Manila Area.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said it could be a “shortcut term” for the Greater Manila Area.“It is [NCR PLUS], because it’s NCR plus the four provinces,” the spokesman said in an interview with ANC’S Headstart last month.

“Well, I think it’s a shortcut for Metro Manila, Bulacan, Rizal Cavite ‘no, so, that we wouldn’t have to repeat the provinces again,” he added.

RELATED: Greater Manila vs ‘NCR Plus’: Questions as gov’t labels areas under GCQ ‘bubble’