Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 14) — President Rodrigo Dutetre has yet to approve a recommendation to impose a curfew on Metro Manila cities to contain the coronavirus disease or COVID-19, his spokesperson said Saturday.
The Metro Manila Council, composed of mayors of the National Capital Region, earlier passed a resolution “[strongly recommending] all Local Legislative Councils of the NCR to issue ordinances for curfew from 8 pm to 5 am subject to their necessary guidelines as they deem necessary.”
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the mayors may already implement the curfew through a local ordinance but until the ordinance is out, the current recommendation will not be enforced.
“The LGUs can impose curfew within their territories if an ordinance is passed imposing it. In the meantime, the Metro Manila Mayors’ recommendation to impose a curfew in Metro Manila is subject to the approval of the President,“ said Panelo in a statement. “The President has yet to consider it.”
San Juan City Mayor Francis Zamora read the resolution in a media briefing, saying all mayors have agreed to it. Those not physically present during the meeting had representatives.
Earlier, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority General Manager Jojo Garcia earlier said that the region-wide curfew will take effect on Sunday, March 15. But that would depend on when the local government units could pass their ordinances.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra also stressed that people caught outside should not be detained, but only “physically prevented from entering or exiting” Metro Manila.
“But if the person assaults the law enforcement agent, or slanders him, or bribes him, then that’s cause for a warrantless arrest,” he said in a statement.
“We are not in a state of martial law. we are fighting a common but relatively unknown enemy, a dangerous and lethal virus known as COVID-19,” he added.
Meanwhile, Garcia said the curfew will not cover all essential travel – including to and from a workplace.
Those who are out to buy food or medicine will also not be restricted from going out, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said.
“Pero kung pwede ka naman bumili ng gamot bukas, bukas ka na bumili, [But if you can buy medicine tomorrow, just buy it tomorrow]” Año said, stressing that the point of the curfew is for people to stay at home.
The majority of the country’s 98 confirmed COVID-19 cases are under treatment in hospitals in Metro Manila. Eight have died of COVID-19 infections in the country.
To prevent infection, authorities are urging people to practice regular hand washing, cover the mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing, and avoid close contact with those who exhibit virus symptoms.