Majority of Metro Manila Mayors support shift to MGCQ status by March 1, 2021

President Rodrigo Duterte will have a big decision to make that will affect millions of residents and businesses in Metro Manila as a majority of the mayors voted to shift the metropolis from general community quarantine (GCQ) to modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) status by March 1, 2021, as based on a news release on Philippine News Agency (PNA) that got published just last night.

Here’s an excerpt from the PNA report:

The Metro Manila Council (MMC), composed of Metro Manila mayors and national government officials, has voted to support the proposed shift to the less restrictive modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) in Metro Manila.

“Ang karamihan po ng alkalde ng kalakhang maynila ay bumoto na MGCQ na po ang magiging posisyon nila pagdating sa Metro Manila (Most of the mayors in Metro Manila voted for having MGCQ as their position in Metro Manila),” Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) chairman Benjamin “Benhur” Abalos Jr. said in a press conference on Thursday.

This, he said, will be sent to the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) and to President Rodrigo R. Duterte who will make the final decision on whether to implement eased quarantine restrictions by March 1.

He declined to provide the actual number of votes the proposal received but said that all Metro Manila mayors will support the decision.

Indeed, Abalos did not reveal the number of Yes and No votes but the Manila Bulletin reported that the score among Metro Manila mayors was 9-8 in favor of MGCQ.

To put things in perspective, Metro Manila still has yet to adjust to MGCQ status. Metro Manila is the hot spot of multiple cities where a lot of residents as well as business entities of varied sizes are located at. Right now, the nation needs a major boost to its economy even as there is still the need to be vigilant to avoid new COVID-19 infections. Lots of people in the metropolis remain unemployed and badly need income, and having Metro Manila shift to MGCQ status will help revive other businesses and pave the way for more people to get back to work.

It would be nice to see the Metro Manila Council research more and observe closely how other cities and provinces are doing while maintaining MGCQ statuses for months already.

On a grander scale, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) supports the recommendation to have the entire nation placed under MGCQ status by March. The said recommendation was made by Acting Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua in recent times. Below is an excerpt from the PNA report:

“It is about time we move to MGCQ after a year of lockdown,” Lopez told reporters in a Viber message Tuesday. “Lockdown was supposed to buy us time to prepare our health system and improve contact tracing and ‘Trace-Test-Treat’.”

Since June 2020, the National Capital Region (NCR) has not graduated from GCQ status, a stricter community quarantine measure than MGCQ.

It even went back to much stricter modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) from Aug. 4 to 18 last year as health care facilities in Metro Manila were overwhelmed due to the increasing number of Covid-19 cases during that period.

“As the Philippines recovers, Metro Manila has a very weak recovery, worse in employment and hunger recovery, and that means more urban poor. The damages to malnutrition and other health and social issues will be irreversible,” Lopez said.

NCR accounted for around 40 percent of the Philippine gross domestic product (GDP).

But Lopez added the reopening of more economic activities should depend on the Covid-19 statistics.

As pointed out by Trade secretary Lopez, Metro Manila is lagging behind in terms of recovery from the pandemic. Apart from joblessness and lack of income, poverty in the National Capital Region is an important problem to solve. The more people fall under poverty, the more local government units (LGUs) need to exert and spend their limited resources to support them.

Right now, the Metro Manila Council’s approval of shifting to MGCQ status will soon be dealt with by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) and President Duterte.

In ending this, here are some videos about combatting the China virus.

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Comic Quest announces closure!

Comic Quest, a notable retailer of comic books and geek stuff (including premium products like action figures) here in the Philippines, announced yesterday that it will be closing its 35-year-old business due to the tremendous economic difficulties related to, unsurprisingly, the ongoing pandemic and also the disrupted state of the international distribution of comic books. Before the end comes, however, a Farewell Sale at their SM Megamall branch in Mandaluyong City has launched and will last until sometime in October. The said sale will have all items discounted at least 50%.

In my experience of the past decade, as a resident of Alabang, Muntinlupa, I often bought new comic books (especially Wonder Woman) at the Festival Mall Alabang branch of Comic Quest. It was also at the same store located a short walk away from the cinemas where I also ordered and received hardback editions of EC Comics Archives. Comic Quest Alabang was a favorite weekend destination of mine for many years. Even before I became a collector of comic books (specifically superhero comics), I first heard about Comic Quest way back in 1990 in the classroom where I had a few classmates who bought comic books from them. Back in the 1990s, Comic Quest had a branch in Makati and it was there where I bought Web of Spider-Man #100 in 1993.

As time passed by, my personal interest in comic books waned and I actually stopped buying comic books (both new and old) shortly before the lockdown here in the Philippines was implemented. The pandemic and related lockdown brought entire economies down worldwide and the Philippines was not spared. It is also depressing to learn that many people lost their jobs as well as their income. No disposable income, no more demand for entertainment products like comic books, theatrical showing of movies, shows and the like. The priority now of people living during the pandemic goes to the essentials.

Yesterday, hours after Comic Quest’s closure announcement, I took the opportunity to visit and see their Festival Mall branch in Alabang. It is gone!

The commercial space in the middle used to be occupied by Comic Quest inside Festival Mall. This picture was taken hours after the closure announcement.

Comic Quest’s decision to close down is understandable and acceptable. They did the best they could to survive and prevent their employees from becoming unemployed until the pandemic-related depression overwhelmed them (as well as the many other businesses of different types and sizes).

Just a few years ago, another comic book specialty retailer had to close down their Alabang Town Center branch. It’s clear that comic books as a business continues to fail especially now that people are often online and find their kind of stuff through digital services/retailers.

In closing this, posted below for your reference is the complete closure announcement of Comic Quest. The retailer will be missed!

This is a special announcement for all our valued customers. We hope you ‘re doing well and staying safe during this difficult time.

We just want to let you know that because of the combined pressure of the pandemic, as well as the disruption of the global distribution of comic books, we’ve had to make the difficult decision to begin the process of closing down Comic Quest. It is and has been an extremely challenging time for us, and we feel that this is our best option moving forward.

It has been a long and amazing road, from our earliest days in our first branch at BF Homes in Alabang, to Greenhills to Makati to multiple branches as far away as SM Cebu. But now the time has come to say goodbye, and let all of you know how much we appreciate being given the chance to be part of the comic book industry.

We want to thank each and every one of you for being one of our valuable loyal customers and a very important member of the Comic Quest family. We wouldn’t have reached 35 wonderful years in business without loyal customers like you. Our sincerest and most heartfelt thanks for being with us through all these years.

In line with our decision, we’re holding a special FAREWELL SALE from September 16th and into October, at our SM Megamall branch. During this time we will be selling ALL items from at least 50% off and up.

Please help us spread the word and share this message with other friends and collectors whom you think might be interested.

While our time in this wonderful industry comes to an end, we’re wishing you many more years of happy collecting! And in the words of the great Stan Lee- Excelsior!

Best wishes,

Comic Quest

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