Nograles denies NCR quarantine was downgraded to MECQ due to lack of cash aid

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Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles on Sunday dismissed claims that Metro Manila was placed under modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) due to the government’s lack of funds for cash aid to affected residents.

Amid the increasing number of new COVID-19 cases, Nograles said the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) decided to downgrade the quarantine classification in the National Capital Region (NCR) from the strict enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) to MECQ to balance the economy and welfare of Filipinos’ health.

“Hindi naman (dahil sa ayuda). Binabalanse natin ang health and safety ng lahat pati ekonomiya,” Nograles told Dobol B TV. He was reacting to claims that the government cannot provide cash aid for those hardest hit by the ECQ.

(It’s not because of aid. We are just balancing health and safety of all including the economy.)

Even under the MECQ, local government units (LGUs) are allowed to conduct hard lockdowns in areas with clustering of COVID-19 cases, said Nograles, also the co-chair of IATF.

The two-week ECQ in Metro Manila, center of the country’s economy, lapsed on August 20. The MECQ in Metro Manila and Laguna started on August 21 and will be in effect until August 31. Meanwhile, Bataan will be placed under MECQ from August 23 to 31. 

Despite the lapse of ECQ, the distribution of cash aid for constituents was only at 60% as of Saturday. 

The Department of the Interior and the Local Government however said most of the LGUs will meet the deadline this August.

Cash aid of P1,000 per individual or a maximum of P4,000 per family were allotted for low-income families affected by the ECQ in NCR.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Sunday said its officers and enlisted personnel from the General Headquarters and Philippine Army’s 3rd Infantry “SPEARHEAD” Division (3ID-PA) have donated their one-day subsistence allowance to provide grocery packs for NCR residents affected by the ECQ.

The food packs were distributed to Barangay Tatalon, Pag-asa, Payatas and Culiat in Quezon City; Barangay 162 in Caloocan City; and Barangay Catmon in Malabon City, the AFP said.

Under ECQ, only authorized persons outside residence are allowed to leave their homes, and only some industries deemed essential are allowed to operate.

MECQ meanwhile is the transition phase between ECQ and the more relaxed general community quarantine

Under MECQ, stringent limiting of movement and transportation of people, strict regulation of operating industries, provision of food and essential services are relaxed, and “the heightened presence of uniformed personnel becomes less necessary,” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque earlier said. —KG, GMA News

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