Metro Manila students barred from public spaces over coronavirus threat

Rambo Talabong
Metro Manila students barred from public spaces over coronavirus threat

LeAnne Jazul

(UPDATED) 'We have no choice but to undertake these measures because public health demands it,' says Interior Secretary Eduardo Año


MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Students in Metro Manila will be sent home if they are spotted in public spaces to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) announced on Tuesday, March 10.

“The President has directed all local officials in NCR (National Capital Region) from mayor down to Punong Barangays (village captains) as well as all units of the Philippine National Police to ensure that no children are seen loitering around and, if they are seen, they are to be immediately sent home to do their homework,” said Interior Secretary Eduardo Año.

The DILG has not set a definite period for the implementation of the order.

These places include the following:

  • Movie houses
  • Malls
  • Public markets
  • Other crowded places

The virus spreads from person to person through sneeze or cough droplets in close contact. As it is a new virus, scientists are still studying how easy the virus spreads.

Other measures: On Monday evening, President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the suspension of classes in Metro Manila in all levels, both in public and private schools from March 10 to 14 also in a bid to prevent any transmission of the virus.

Malacañang issued the directives as the Philippines races to stem the spread of the new virus, which has so far infected at least 24 people, and has placed hundreds more under investigation. The confirmed cases include one death – a Chinese tourist who came from Wuhan in China, the epicenter of the outbreak – the first fatality to be recorded outside of China.

Worldwide, the death toll has exceeded 3,800, while more than 109,000 people have been infected in over 100 countries.

How it will be enforced: The government is counting on cops and barangay officials to send the students home. Año also emphasized the role of parents in helping enforce the order, as they can  keep their kids inside their homes.

“We have no choice but to undertake these measures because public health demands it. Together with sustained hygiene, suspensions of classes and mass gathering will enable us to defeat this virus faster,” Año added.

Under Section 6 Article III of the Constitution, the government has the power to limit the right of people to travel if it is “in the interest of national security, public safety, or public health, as may be provided by law.” –

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Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers the House of Representatives and local governments for Rappler. Prior to this, he covered security and crime. He was named Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. In 2021, he was selected as a journalism fellow by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.