Six Metro Manila cities enact COVID-19 curfew

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 15) — Six Metro Manila cities have enacted measures imposing a curfew from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m., following the recommendation of the Metro Manila Council in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The city councils of Manila, Muntinlupa, Navotas and San Juan have all passed ordinances imposing a curfew, while Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte and Makati City Mayor Abby Binay issued executive orders imposing a curfew.

Belmonte said that effective Monday, from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m., “all persons within the territorial jurisdiction of Quezon City are prohibited [from] roam[ing] around, [and cannot] loiter, wander, stay or meander in all public places, whether singly or in groups”.

Certain people, including those reporting to work during curfew hours, health workers, and those traveling for health and humanitarian purposes are exempted from the curfew.

These are also the similar directives under Binay’s executive order, and the ordinances passed by the city councils of Manila, Muntinlupa, Navotas, San Juan and Pasay City.

All these orders take effect Monday, except Manila, which is only expected to take effect on Thursday, according to its city council’s majority leader, Joel Chua, as the ordinance would only be enforced three days after its publication in a newspaper.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said an ordinance imposing a curfew but does not impose penalties may become effective immediately upon its publication.

But if it imposes penalties, an ordinance will only take effect three days after its publication, he said.

He also said that an executive order imposing a curfew should be enough in times of an emergency or calamity, but added that this cannot carry a penalty for violators, unless it is adopted by the local council.

Binay’s executive order only mentions that violators of the curfew and the other restrictions she put in place on the city while it is on so-called community quarantine would be “meted with appropriate action, in accordance with relevant laws and regulations.”

Meanwhile, San Juan’s ordinance and Belmonte’s executive order both threaten to charge those who disobey the curfew for violating Republic Act No. 11332 or the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act.

Both measures threaten prosecution under Section 9(e) of the law, which prohibits “non-cooperation of the person or entities identified as having the notifiable disease, or affected by the health event of public concern.”

San Juan’s ordinance also threatens prosecution under Section 9(d) of the law, which bars “non-cooperation of persons and entities that should report and/or respond to notifiable diseases or health events of public concern.”

Those found guilty of these violations will either be fined ₱20,000 to ₱50,000 or jailed for one to six months.

Belmonte’s order also warns of a charge under Article 151 of the Revised Penal Code, which penalizes resistance and disobedience to a person in authority.

Tighter restrictions

The new measures enacted by some Metro Manila cities also carry tighter restrictions on the movement of people.

In Makati, which is now under community quarantine, the movement of people is limited to accessing basic necessities and work from March 16 to April 14.

City-run facilities, malls, bars, restobars, karaoke bars, cocktail lounges, theaters, schools gyms, basketball court and other sports facilities in Makati will also be closed.

While malls are closed, groceries, pharmacies, 24-hour convenience stores, banks, financial institutions, hardware stores, health clinics, diagnostic centers, laboratories, restaurants with take-out and delivery services will remain open in Makati.

Dining in restaurants in Makati, however, is not allowed.

There are now 140 confirmed positive COVID-19 cases in the Philippines, including 11 deaths. Globally, the infectious disease has infected more than 156,000 people in 142 different countries and territories, including China.