Duterte adviser proposes relaxed barangay-level quarantine after Luzon lockdown

MANILA, Philippines – Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion proposed a shift to selective quarantine at the barangay level after the Luzon-wide lockdown.

In a letter addressed to Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia dated March 31, Concepcion said that the government can move to locking down barangays with COVID-19 cases instead of the entire Luzon to ensure better flow of agricultural goods.

The Luzon lockdown will end on April 12, and the Metro Manila lockdown until April 14, unless extended or shortened.

Concepcion added that the modified lockdown can be done by empowering the local government units and the respective mayors, as they would implement the guidelines set by the inter-agency task force.

Concepcion also proposed allowing manufacturing, construction, and agricultural activities to operate again based on demand.

“All sectors still to be encouraged to work from home but permit physical work in the largest employment groups such as construction, non-food manufacturing, energy infrastructure, and government,” Concepcion said in the letter.

Concepcion urged Pernia to allow public transportation at a reduced level as some people slowly report back to work. He said private vehicles, bicycles, and certain types of vehicles consistent with physical distancing should be allowed.

He added that schools, malls, and other spaces where people can congregate should remain closed.

The proposals were formed after a video call with over 60 business leaders and 6 government officials last March 29. (READ: Lockdowns vs coronavirus must be data-driven – businessman)

The virus is expected to drastically slow down the Philippine economy, as many industries halt operations. (WATCH: Rappler Talk: Saving the economy from a pandemic)

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New normal

Sought for further clarifications, Concepcion told Rappler that he proposed a somewhat relaxed version of the lockdown as the Philippines adjusts to the “new normal.”

“Life should go on because the virus will be there until there is a cure. We have to find a method that will work and this is worth thinking about,” Concepcion said.

Concepcion recognized that the Philippines is not testing enough for coronavirus and there may be thousands more who are infected but are not counted in official statistics. But he also noted that the quarantine period somewhat gives households an idea on who is sick or not.

For the first 14 days of the lockdown, Concepcion said families at this point would know “who is sick and who is not.”

Families then have another 14 days to further check the health of their members.

“On the 4th week, you have a better reading [on each family members’ health],” he said.

Should the government decide to extend for another two weeks, Concepcion said that this period should be considered as a “transition” toward the barangay-level lockdowns.

He said barangay lockdowns would eliminate the tight checkpoints, which often cause delays in deliveries and disruptions in supply chains.

Concepcion also told Rappler that he was pushing for construction to start to help segments of the economy running again.

In construction sites, Concepcion said that the workplace is “open air, [with] less chances of contaminating each other because it is not an airconditioned space.”

On Thursday, April 2, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases around the world soared past one million. – Rappler.com 

Ralf Rivas

A sociologist by heart, a journalist by profession. Ralf is Rappler's business reporter, covering macroeconomy, government finance, companies, and agriculture.

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