IATF to tackle post-lockdown scenario, new guidelines on Monday

MANILA, Philippines – The Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on the coronavirus pandemic will discuss the post-Luzon lockdown scenario and new guidelines when it meets on Monday, April 20.

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said this in a virtual news briefing on Friday, April 17, while responding to questions on whether the IATF considered recommendating a martial declaration after President Rodrigo Duterte broached a “martial law-type” implementation of the enhanced community quarantine  (ECQ) in Luzon to deter violators.

Nograles, the IATF spokesperson, said that “select” groups – including the country’s economic managers – will give a presentation to the IATF on Monday “to talk about what happens after April 30,” or the end of Luzon lockdown.

“We will discuss what that scenario or possible scenario will be, the pros and cons, what we are ready to allow, new dos and dont’s, guidelines after April 30,” he said.

The Palace official said that based on those discussions, the IATF will make recommendations to Duterte, subject to the President’s approval.

Nograles also reiterated that the IATF’s recommendations would also depend on the people’s compliance with the lockdown rules, following  reports of continued violations in some areas. 

“If the people are really cooperating with the government, it makes it easier for us to make the decision…. But if more people not not cooperating, then who knows what the decision will be. It becomes more difficult for us to come up with that decision,” he said in a mix of English and Filipino.

In response to questions about a martial law declaration, Nograles said it was not being discussed and that Duterte gave the warning amid continued quarantine violations.

“‘Yung Constitution is very clear [on a martial law declaration]: in cases of  invasion or rebellion. ‘Pag wala naman ‘yun, hindi naman ano ‘yung martial law (The Constitution is very clear [on a martial law declaration: in cases of invasion or rebellion. If there’s none, there’s no grounds for martial law),” he said.

“The President is only trying to emphasize to the people that he also has the ability of ask the military to help impose order if need be. He has that power. Warning lang sa violators…na umayos kayo; magbehave (It’s just a warning to violators…to follow the rules; behave). Let’s keep order,” Nograles added.

Nograles also came to the defense Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, saying that contrary to what critics say, Duque was doing a good job in managing the coronavirus outbreak in the country.

“In this crisis, what we’re facing now, we have to make hard decisions…. It helps us that Secretary Duque is there, he will tell it as it is…. That’s what the President appreciates You have to tell is as it is, no sugar-coating,” he said.

On Thursday, at least 14 senators – many of them Duterte allies – filed a resolution calling on Duque to resign for his "failure of leadership" in battling the coronavirus outbreak in the country. The President reiterated his trust in his health chief and ordered Duque to "stay put."

The Luzon lockdown, imposed to stem the coronavirus outbreak, has been in place since March 17. It was supposed to end on April 12, but was extended to April 30.

As of Thursday, the Philippines has 5,660 coronavirus cases, with 362 deaths and 435 recoveries. Rappler.com