Duterte: Strict lockdown possible if health protocols are defied

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 19) — President Rodrigo Duterte said on Tuesday that the government will have no choice but to implement a strict lockdown if health protocols are continuously defied.

“There’s a sharp drop of cases, it’s because they followed the protocols. Kasi ‘pag hindi, ‘di mapipilitan again ako na (Because if not I will be forced again) to impose lockdowns and everything at mag-strikto ang gobyerno (and the government will be strict again),” he said during his taped address.

He explained that the decision to implement a lockdown is based on the recommendation of health experts and not his own choice. He added that if we will experience a resurgence because of non-compliance with health standards, not to mention the presence of COVID-19 variants, he will be forced to put in place stricter community restrictions.

Pag sinabi nilang lockdown, it’s not because I want to do it. Ayaw ko… It would work hardships on the people… And if you --- hindi niyo sumusunod, and may resurgence naman tapos the new variants, eh mapipilitan talaga akong mag-impose ng lockdown maybe stricter this time,” Duterte noted.

[Translation: If they say lockdown, it's not because I want to do it. I don't want it. It would work hardships on the people. And if you do not follow and there will be a resurgence and the new variants, I will be really forced to impose a lockdown may be stricter this time.]

According to Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, the agency recorded a total of 32,867 individuals not wearing face masks; 585 caught holding mass gatherings; and 10,705 violated rules on physical distancing from May 12 to 16.

He also said that 937 of the violators were arrested that resulted in the filing of cases versus 697 people, while 2,308 individuals conducted community service. Others were just given a warning.

Año noted that for the past week, the number of violators has been decreasing. This means that people are now more aware of properly following minimum health standards that are important to prevent the transmission of the virus, he added.

With the shift to more relaxed restrictions in areas like Metro Manila, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said it is now key for local government units to implement localized lockdowns to control the spread of the coronavirus at the barangay-level.

Prior to the implementation of strict community quarantine in late-March, the same scheme was put in place to ensure that the economy still functions while local governments control the spread of the virus by restricting movement in barangays where there is high rate of infection.

Latest government data shows that total COVID-19 cases in the country have reached 1,154,388, of which 52,291are active or currently ill patients.