Duterte to face the nation again on COVID-19 fight

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 16) — President Rodrigo Duterte is set to once again face the nation on Monday afternoon on the Philippine government's response to the coronavirus disease or COVID-19 threat.

His spokesperson said the televised address will happen after his meeting with the government's Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID).

Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo said a total lockdown on Metro Manila will be recommended to Duterte during the meeting.

He said he, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, and other task force members share the sentiment that a total lockdown must be enforced over Metro Manila. He said the recommendation will be evaluated and will be up for Duterte's approval.

"Si Secretary Año, iyan din ang nirerekomenda. Iyan din ang nirerekomenda ko. This is a matter of national survival, this is a matter of life or death... Sa aking pananaw kailangan nang i-resrtrict ang movement otherwise kakalat ito nang kakalat. Maraming sumusuporta," he said in a media briefing.

[Translation: That is Secretary Año's recommendation. Mine, too. This is a matter of national survival, this is a matter of life or death... In my opinion, we need to restrict movement otherwise the virus will spread. Many support this recommendation.]

The Interior Department said it has long been pushing for a total lockdown on Metro Manila, but Interior Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya said they were overruled by the majority who just wanted to implement community quarantine, where the movement of people in and out of Metro Manila is limited, with only those traveling for work, medical treatment or emergencies being permitted.

Related: DILG to recommend Metro Manila lockdown as officials review COVID-19 quarantine protocols

Panelo said a total lockdown will be far from the currently imposed community quarantine wherein scores of people uwere still allowed to enter and exit the region for work. He likened it to the national lockdown situation in Macau.

"We really have to assess kung effective ang ganitong uri ng very hindi strict na implementasyon," the spokesman said.

Under the total lockdown, people are prohibited from moving out of their houses, all establishments will be closed and work, even in the private sector, will be suspended in Metro Manila where over 12 million people live. 

On Monday, the first working day of the metro-wide quarantine, many commuters did not follow the ordered social distancing in public utility vehicles out of desperation just to be able to get a ride to their work.

Panelo added they will recommend to housing all patients who tested postive in one area and the persons under monitoring will be placed in a separate area so the virus will be isolated.

Duterte last addressed the public on Friday when he announced the imposition of community quarantine on Metro Manila.

In the country, 140 have been infected with the virus and 12 have died because of it. Two have recovered, while the rest are admitted at various hospitals in the country.