Malacañang on Saturday called on the public to be honest and cooperate with the government to ensure the successful containment of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) in the country.
In a press statement, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo told the public to strictly heed the guidelines on the implementation of “general” community quarantine in Metro Manila to prevent the further spread of Covid-19.
“The point of the directives issued by the Office of the President is to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease, and in the ultimate, totally eliminate the same from our country,” Panelo said. “Hence, the Palace asks for the honesty and cooperation of our countrymen as it is now the health and safety of our populace which are at stake.”
Panelo issued the statement the same day the Department of Health (DOH) reported 34 new Covid-19 cases, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the country to 98.
A Palace memorandum was signed on Friday, directing all local government units in Metro Manila to ensure the strict implementation of “general” community quarantine in their respective jurisdictions from March 15 to April 14.
Under the memorandum, a “general” community quarantine limits people’s movement to “accessing basic necessities and work” and orders uniformed personnel and quarantine personnel to be present at border points.
Panelo stressed that “non-essential” entry into and exit from Metro Manila is “restricted and prevented,” respectively.
He also reminded workers living outside Metro Manila, including media practitioners, that they are only allowed to go in and out of the region for work purposes.
He added that they need to present proof of the legitimacy of their work or business at border checkpoints so enforcement personnel can validate the necessity of their entry to or exit from Metro Manila.
“As a result, entry into or exit from the (Metro Manila) by workers, including legitimate media practitioners, are permitted only if their travel is essential, and not simply for leisure or otherwise, such as that the purpose thereof is to report for work or conduct essential business in the place of their destination,” Panelo said.
Panelo warned that individuals who will circumvent or violate the imposed community quarantine, such as presenting false company identification cards or fabricated business agenda, will be “dealt with strictly in accordance with law”.
Authorized gov’t mouthpieces
To avoid confusion, Panelo said there was an agreement that only him and Health Secretary Francisco Duque III would be the authorized persons to announce or discuss the general policies and guidelines on how the government will fight Covid-19, in case President Rodrigo Duterte cannot make the announcement.
Panelo said this was agreed upon by the members of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) “for purposes of clarity”.
“They may authorize their respective staff to relay or disseminate pertinent information for this purpose, on a case to case basis,” he said.
The IATF-EID will be meeting on a regular basis during the implementation of the Metro Manila-wide community quarantine.
The inter-agency task force is also expected to give possible new recommendations that are subject to Duterte’s approval.
With regard to the details for the implementation of directives in addressing Covid-19, heads, and spokespersons of implementing line departments, agencies or instrumentalities “may speak about specific concerns only in connection with their mandate,” Panelo said. (Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos/PNA)