Step-by-step MGCQ for the Philippines?

By now, it has been made clear that the Philippines won’t shift to modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) because President Rodrigo Duterte wants vaccination for COVID-19 to happen first. To put it short, health and personal safety are being prioritized although this means more waiting on the part of many people who are still unemployed and struggling without the needed income.

Yesterday, a new report published by Philippine News Agency (PNA) states that Duterte is taking a “step-by-step” approaching to the planned shift to MGCQ for the nation according to Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles.

Here is an excerpt from the report…

“For him (Duterte), it’s a step-by-step approach. Itong step muna before we go to the next step (We have to take this step first before we go to the next step), Nograles said in an online press briefing.

Nograles said it was “difficult” for Duterte to turn down the proposed shift to MGCQ.

However, Duterte wants to make sure that people’s health and safety would not be compromised, Nograles said.

“Again, the President and the government recognize the urgency of reopening the economy so we can resume the pre-pandemic upward trajectory and sustained growth of the economy. This, however, should be done side-by-side with measures that will ensure that we do not compromise efforts to contain Covid-19,” he said.

As seen above, the national leadership is aware of the need for economic recovery so that people suffering can be assisted by means economic opportunities. They are balancing economics with health as they are trying to find solutions and decide when to execute solutions. Shifting the whole nation to MGCQ can be done but with caution so that the risk of new infections won’t be too great.

Here is another excerpt…

The government was supposed to start its free vaccination program this month. However, there was a delay in the delivery of Covid-19 vaccines due to indemnification requirements.

Nograles said the IATF-EID would stick to the “month-to-month” assessment even if the government starts its mass immunization drive.

“If we go by the procedure, every end of the month, that is when we discuss ano ‘yung magiging recommendations namin kay Pangulo (what our recommendations to the President would be) for that succeeding month. So siguro (perhaps), in terms of timeline, perhaps that might be the same procedure that we follow,” he said.

The delayed arrival of the COVID-19 vaccines is indeed painful. Of course, people need to realize that while they can be helpful, the vaccines may not be the greatest solution to take during this pandemic. Even if a person gets vaccinated, caution must still be practiced when moving around in public.

More on the issue of shifting the entire nation to MGCQ status, I hope that the Metro Manila mayors as well as their advisers and experts would start researching how local governments and community leaders in other cities and provinces are doing under the declared MGCQ statuses in their respective areas. With Duterte’s refusal to move the nation into MGCQ, Metro Manila leaders have time to do such research.

Going back to Duterte and his cabinet, a new executive order (EO) is being prepared to institutionalize the 2021-2022 National Employment Recovery Strategy (NERS) with the goal of bringing back jobs in the labor market. Here’s an excerpt from the Philippine News Agency report…

In a virtual presser, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said the NERS was discussed and approved during the 52nd Cabinet meeting presided over by President Rodrigo Duterte at the Malacañan Palace on Monday night.

“Another initiative that was discussed yesterday (Monday) was the 2021-2022 National Employment Recovery Strategy or NERS…An executive order (EO) is now being readied to institutionalize the NERS task force in order to oversee all of these efforts,” he said.

Nograles said the NERS is meant to help create a policy environment that encourages the generation of more employment and entrepreneurship opportunities.

It is also expected to improve the employability and productivity of workers as it provides support to existing and emerging businesses.

“The strategic framework of the NERS is based on the following pillars — stimulating the economy and employment; supporting enterprises, jobs, and income; protecting workers in the workplace, and trusting social dialogue to encourage innovative solutions,” he said.

Watch out for more national developments here.

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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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A chance for recovery for more Philippine cinemas (and their employees)

Wow. That was quite a ride of information updates that happened the last few days. Last Friday, the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) announced that it has allowed a variety of businesses around the Philippines to resume operations so that they can recover from this ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Such businesses specified were driving schools, video arcades, theme parks, natural sites, historical landmarks, parks and, most notably of all, cinemas (or movie theaters).

However, the Metro Manila mayors reacted and expressed their opposition against the national government’s decision on allowing cinemas to reopen. Through the media, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) chairman Benhur Abalos stated that a “majority of Metro Manila mayors agreed not to open as far as cinema is concerned.”

Abalos added that “movie theaters are enclosed and air-conditioned spaces where people stay for more than 30 minutes, conditions that increase the risk of coronavirus transmission.”

To put things in perspective, Metro Manila is composed of many major Philippine cities such as Makati, Quezon City, Manila and Muntinlupa to name a few. Until now, Metro Manila remains under GCQ (General Community Quarantine) status while certain other cities or provinces have been enduring the MGCQ (Modified General Community Quarantine) status. As of this writing, the only cinemas operating here in the Philippines are those located in MGCQ areas.

Here in Metro Manila, movie theaters have been closed since March 2020. Take note of that.

As a result of the Metro Manila mayors’ opposition, it has been announced that the reopening of cinemas has been moved to March 1, 2021, but that is not guaranteed. According to the news release published yesterday at Philippine News Agency, the reopening of cinemas in GCQ areas has been moved to the first of March to allow consultations with local officials, and this is the result of talks with MMDA’s Abalos, MMDA General Manager Jojo Garcia and Trade Secretary Lopez.

Malacañang stated in the release: The IATF respects the position of mayors, especially those in Metro Manila. That’s why the resolution stated that the reopening of cinemas will be effective after drafting guidelines with local governments particularly when it comes to seating capacity in cinemas.

As you can see, there is still some work needed to be done before Metro Manila movie theaters (or any theaters in GCQ areas in general) can be allowed to reopen. This is why, in my view, the March 1 target for reopening could be missed.

More on the cinemas, I wonder if the Metro Manila mayors and their advisers did enough research about the economics. I understand they want to avoid the risk of people getting infected with COVID-19 within their respective cities, but there is still the need for economic recovery even if cinemas are to operate at less than 100% capacity and efficiency

From an economic point of view, thanks to information released by Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez, the so-called traditional cinema industry of the nation employed 300,000 workers and had generated revenues of P13 billion BEFORE the pandemic started last year. Because of the pandemic, 2020 theater revenues shrunk down to only P1.3 billion.

Whatever happened to them as a result of the pandemic, 300,000 cinema employees is a figure that should not be ignored nor dismissed so quickly by the mayors and their advisers. Economic recovery is a must.

In an ABS-CBN news report, the cinema operators and movie producers have decided to adopt a so-called wait-and-see approach on the reopening of cinemas in GCQ areas.

Here’s an excerpt from the report:

Although they welcome the easing of quarantine restrictions, local producers and theater operators believe that ultimately, the reopening of cinemas will still be dependent on the clearance of local government units.

Roselle Monteverde and Vincent del Rosario, who helm Regal and Viva Entertainment, respectively, told ABS-CBN News that they have the capability to provide cinemas with movie material, some of which have long been canned. Nonetheless, along with other members of the local producers association, the movie magnates are still awaiting the IATF guidelines and, more important, the guidance of mayors.

And here’s another excerpt, this time about two major cinema chain operators.

Megaworld Cinemas and SM Cinemas, which both control a vast chain of theater chains, told ABS-CBN News that they will wait for the final guidelines of the IATF and local government units.

Bomboy Lim of Robinson Cinemas also told ABS-CBN News that the bottomline is securing the approval of local government units. “Priority din namin ang ligtas na panonood ng tao. Kailangan nating sundin ang lahat ng guidelines including the IATF. Right now, they are still making it.”

Robinson Cinemas, which has an estimated 200 theaters nationwide in its malls nationwide, have not reopened since March 2020.

Over at the City of Manila, the local authorities there announced it will offer free swab tests to movie theater workers within their jurisdiction. Mayor Isko Moreno said that the swab tests are required before the city government allows malls to open their movie houses. Cinema workers specified are janitors, security guards, tellers, ushers, porters, ticket sellers and snack bar attendants to name some. Managers of malls in the city were asked by the mayor to present to the city government their respective preparations for the reopening of their cinemas with public safety in mind.

As I personally observed in shopping malls with cinemas here in South Metro Manila, each of them has established rules and set up special equipment to monitor the health statuses of people entering their respective places. I can imagine local cinemas inside these malls having similar equipment, disinfectant machines, and temperature scanners. It would be helpful if the malls or cinema operators can afford to set up sanitation tunnels (like those in Israel) for moviegoers to pass thru when entering and exiting the movie theater. Watch the video below…

Even though things look unclear, the fact remains is that operators of movie theaters and their employees now have a chance to resume their business and do their part in the recovery economically and socially. How the IATF and the Metro Manila mayors will decide the fate of the cinemas remains to be seen.

If there are any major updates, you will be notified right here at www.CarloCarrasco.com

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For more South Metro Manila community news and developments, come back here soon. Also say NO to fake news, NO to irresponsible journalism, NO to misinformation, NO to plagiarists, NO to reckless publishers and NO to sinister propaganda when it comes to news and developments. For South Metro Manila community developments, member engagements, commerce and other relevant updates, join the growing South Metro Manila Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/342183059992673

Muntinlupa Mayor joins Metro Manila Mayors in Project Ark Meeting

Muntinlupa Mayor joins Metro Manila Mayors in Project Ark Meeting

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On July 24, 2020, Muntinlupa City Mayor Jaime Fresnedi joins other Metro Manila in a virtual meeting and press conference of Project Ark. Fresnedi thanked Project Ark and Filinvest Foundation execs for providing 2,016 testing kits to Muntinlupa that were used in recent localized community quarantine in several areas in the city. Project ARK is a private sector initiative to make mass testing available nationwide. Joining the virtual meeting were Parañaque Mayor Edwin Olivarez, San Mateo Mayor Cristina Diaz, and Pasay Mayor Imelda Tubiano. (source – Muntinlupa PIO)


Latest City Government of Muntinlupa details sourced from their official media release.

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COVID-19 Crisis: Muntinlupa City releases food packs to displaced workers

COVID-19 Crisis: Muntinlupa City releases food packs to displaced workers

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A package of food released by the City Government to a displaced worker. (source – Muntinlupa PIO)

Recently, the City Government of Muntinlupa provided much-needed assistance to hundreds of displaced workers whose livelihoods were negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Specifically, on July 16 the City Government organized a registration process for the displaced workers residing in the city. The number of applications received was at eight hundred forty-five (845) and food packages were released to them.

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Registration was required in order for applicants to receive food packages. (source – Muntinlupa PIO)

At first, the registration covered workers in the formal sector but will eventually cater to other sectors. Mayor Jaime Fresnedi has ordered assistance packages for displaced workers, formal and informal sectors, whose livelihood were affected by the pandemic.


Latest City Government of Muntinlupa details sourced from their official media release.

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Muntinlupa City receives frozen fish donation from OCD

Muntinlupa City receives frozen fish donation from OCD

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Receiving the donation from OCD were Muntinlupa City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Officer Erwin Alfonso, Social Service Department head Analyn Mercado, and Youth Affairs and Sports Development Officer Cynthia Viacrusis. (source – Muntinlupa PIO)

Recently the City Government of Muntinlupa received two thousand and five hundred frozen fishes from the Office of the Civil Defense (OCD).

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One of many boxes of relief goods being passed on. (source – Muntinlupa PIO)

The donation, which was official received on July 16, will be  given to communities on localized community quarantine and other barangays. Already residents of Filinvest Socialized Housing Buildings 1 and 2 have received the goods.

The City Government is also set to distribute other frozen fish packs to other barangays.


Latest City Government of Muntinlupa details sourced from their official media release.

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COVID-19 Crisis: Metro Manila Councilors League Donates Equipment to Muntinlupa City

COVID-19 Crisis: Metro Manila Councilors League Donates Equipment to Muntinlupa City

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The Metro Manila Councilors League donated foot-operated hand sanitizers and foot bath to the local government of Muntinlupa in support of its efforts against the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Muntinlupa City Council turned-over the donated equipment to Mayor Jaime Fresnedi on July 13. The local exec thanked the MM Councilors League for providing sanitizers and foot baths that will be installed in several communities in the city. As of July 12, Muntinlupa City has 626 confirmed cases with 344 recoveries, 235 active cases, 47 deaths, 368 probable cases, and 215 suspect cases. (source – Muntinlupa PIO)


Latest City Government of Muntinlupa details sourced from their official media release.

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COVID-19 Crisis – New Quarantine Facility in Muntinlupa Opened

COVID-19 Crisis – New Quarantine Facility in Muntinlupa Opened

The City Government of Muntinlupa announced today that the recently turned-over quarantine center within the city (Barangay Sucat) from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has officially started accepting local residents who tested positive for COVID-19, as well as those who were suspected to have contracted the said virus for isolation. The facility opened on July 8.

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Mayor Jaime Fresnedi inspects the facility in Barangay Sucat. (source – Muntinlupa PIO)

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Fully equipped personnel working at the facility. (source – Muntinlupa PIO)

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A look at the Barangay Sucat facility that officially opened on July 8. (source – Muntinlupa PIO)

Already two units of Emergency Quarantine Facility (EQF) in Barangay Sucat serve as an isolation facility and additional triage to decongest hospitals in Muntinlupa as part of local government’s efforts to curb COVID-19 in the communities.

As of July 9, has 542 confirmed cases with 310 recoveries, 192 active cases, 40 deaths, 338 probable cases, and 228 suspect cases.


Latest City Government of Muntinlupa details sourced from their official media release.

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COVID-19 Crisis: Muntinlupa imposes ‘Extreme Localized Community Quarantine’ in Alabang community

COVID-19 Crisis: Muntinlupa imposes ‘Extreme Localized Community Quarantine’ in Alabang community

The City Government of Muntinlupa placed an entire community in Barangay Alabang under lockdown, the fourth localized community quarantine in the city, due to the alarming doubling time of COVID-19 transmission and confirmed cases in the area.

Mayor Jaime Fresnedi signed Executive Order 27 s.2020 ordering a 15-day Extreme Localized Community Quarantine in two residential buildings in Filinvest Socialized Housing complex, Bldg. 1 and Bldg. 7, in Brgy. Alabang starting July 7, 12:00 p.m. until July 22, 12:00 p.m.

Muntinlupa City Health Officer Dra. Tet Tuliao said Buildings 1 and 7 have a total of 15 active cases of which 14 are active cases and two are admitted in the hospital. She said the doubling time is narrow for both buildings at at 3 days for Building 1 and 1.95 days for Building 7.

Doubling time refers to the number of days for local coronavirus cases to double in number. Tuliao noted that the standard rate of transmission should be at 7-30 days.

She added that the community shows clustering of cases as housing units are close to one another. The community also has a high-risk population of children, pregnant women, PWDs and senior citizens.

Filinvest Socialized Housing is an 18-building residential complex. The two buildings to be placed under ELCQ house 80 families with 303 individuals.

Other residential buildings in the housing complex will be considered as containment zone and are subject to strict quarantine measures following IATF guidelines. CHO eyes using the newly turned-over quarantine facility in Brgy. Sucat as an isolation center.

Residents in the compound were advised to buy essential goods including food, medicine, and basic supplies. While the local government will provide additional relief food packs and other basic goods during the effectivity of the ELCQ.

CHO will also conduct a mass testing in the community and will intensify its detection, isolation, and treatment strategies. Barangay Alabang has conducted disinfection activities in the area.

Mayor Jaime Fresnedi asks for the cooperation of Flinvest Socialized Housing residents and urged them to observe health protocols such as frequent hand-washing, wearing of face masks, and physical distancing.

Further, the City Government raises concerns over rising COVID-19 cases among residents aged 19 years old and below. As of July 5, the 19 y/o and under age group recorded the highest distribution of COVID-19 positive patients among city residents.

City Health Office reminds the youth and their parents to exercise vigilance and strict compliance to IATF guidelines and health protocols.

Muntinlupa City has 505 confirmed cases with 306 recoveries, 160 active cases, 39 reported deaths, 234 suspect cases, and 377 probable cases as of July 6.


This is an official Press Release issued by the City Government of Muntinlupa. Some parts were edited for this website. 

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COVID-19 Crisis: Muntinlupa to implement cost-cutting measures to fund programs vs COVID-19

COVID-19 Crisis: Muntinlupa to implement cost-cutting measures to fund programs vs COVID-19

The City Government of Muntinlupa is set to implement economic and austerity measures to continue funding its programs in curbing the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the city.

Muntinlupa Mayor Jaime Fresnedi signed City Ordinance No. 2020-105 providing cost-cutting measures and realignment of funds to augment budgetary requirements for COVID-19 response.

The approved measure follows the recommendation of the Local Finance Committee to reduce expenses and conserve necessary resources from the 2020 Annual Budget by channeling funds to programs and projects towards COVID-19 initiatives.

Under the local ordinance, overtime pay to employees is suspended while hazard pay in relation to COVID-19 would be covered only until May 15 for qualified personnel.

However, health workers and other essential personnel assigned at the City Health Office, Ospital ng Muntinlupa, City Veterinary Office and Muntinlupa Traffic Management Bureau would continue to receive their hazard pay.

Honoraria of personnel involved in Technical Working Groups and other committees are also suspended while allowances of officers and staff members of national government agencies would be reduced by 50 percent.

The City Government of Muntinlupa is also set to impose a freeze on the hiring of new personnel except for front-liners in health, law enforcement, sanitation, social services and other essential departments.

Further, local and foreign travels for all officials and staff are prohibited while civic celebrations, cultural events, and the purchase of supplies not related to the city’s COVID-19 response are put on hold.

Muntinlupa City Hall employees will also no longer get rice allocation of one sack per employee which is given every December.

Budget Committee chairman Coun. Raul Corro said if the economy continues to worsen due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the cost-cutting measures of the local government will be sustained until next year or even longer than that.

“This is a test of the city government’s ability to spend funds wisely. Because we will not get the income we were expecting, we need to cut our expenses and allot enough for funds for our primary needs,” Corro said.

As of July 2, Muntinlupa City has 440 confirmed cases with 291 recoveries, 111 active cases, 38 reported deaths, 137 suspect cases, and 350 probable cases.


This is an official Press Release issued by the City Government of Muntinlupa. Some parts were edited for this website. 

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