Last night of July 15, Wednesday, President Rodrigo Duterte presided over the Inter-Agency Taskforce on Emerging Infectious Disease (IATF) meeting. Members of the cabinet CHED Chairperson Prospero de Vera, DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones, DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III, NTF Chief Implementor Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, and other professionals are present. The meeting revolves around the recommendations on education protocols and the announcement of new quarantine classifications amidst the COVID-19.
The Chairperson of CHED, De Vera, proposed the split type of curriculum for the universities. He said that subjects with laboratories, On the Job Training, Internship, and such should be taken in the second semester or in January 2021 while the Theoretical subjects during the first semester. The chairperson reported that private schools are closing due to the low number of enrollees. Next, is DepEd Secretary Briones stated that the maximum time of opening schools on general education would be this last week of August. She discussed several options like online, offline, radio, or television classes. If the student can’t afford those, there is another option which is IBM (It’s Better Manual). De Vera also mentioned Thailand as an example of basic education protocols. DOH Secretary Duque III strongly endorsed the proposition of both CHED and DepEd on conducting classes in MGCQ areas. Then NTF Chief Implementor Secretary Galvez agreed with CHED that students who will stay in dormitories will be tested. He also suggested some protocols such as no playgrounds, no canteen buffet, and only ten students per classroom before the opening of classes. Professor Ranjit Rye of UP Diliman said that they already presented two options to the cabinet regarding measures for Metro Manila: GCQ with contract tracing, testing, and isolation or MECQ. He said that NCR is the heart of the Philippine economy and can’t be simply closed.
Finally, Presidential Spokesperson Roque announced the new quarantine qualifications of different regions in the Philippines. Under the General Community Quarantine (GCQ) are National Capital Region, Laguna, Cavite, Rizal, Lapu-Lapu City, Ormoc City, Southern Leyte, Zamboanga City, Butuan City, Agusan del Norte, and Basilan. According to Secretary Roque, NCR will be under Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ) if the number of cases is still rapidly increasing after July 31. It was an initial recommendation from the University of the Philippines, initially agreed by the president.
Areas under Modified General Community Quarantine (MGCQ) with medium risk are CAR – Benguet and Baguio City; Region I – Ilocos Sur, Pangasinan, Ilocos Norte, La union, and Dagupan City; Region II – Cagayan, Isabela, and Nueva Vizcaya; Region III – Bataan, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Bulacan, Tarlac, Zambales, and Angeles City; Region IVA – Batangas, Quezon, and Lucena City; Region IVB – Oriental Mindoro, Occidental Mindoro, and Puerto Prinsesa City; Region V – Albay, Masbate, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Catanduanes, Sorsogon, and Naga City; Region VI – Iloilo, Negros Occidental Capiz, Antique, Aklan, Guimaras, Iloilo City, and Bacolod City; Region VII – Negros Oriental, Bohol, and Cebu Province; Region VIII – Western Samar, Leyte, Biliran, and Tacloban City; Region IX – Zamboanga del Sur, Zamboanga Sibugay, and Zamboanga del Norte; Region X – Misamis Occidental, Bukidnon, Lanao del Norte, Cagayan de Oro City, and Iligan City; Region XI – Davao Oriental, Davao del Norte, Davao del Sur, Davao de Oro, and Davao City; Region XII – Sultan Kudarat, Cotabato, South Cotabato, and General Santos City; Region XIII – Agusan del Sur, Dinagat Island, Surigao del Norte, and Surigao del Sur, and ARMM – Lanao del Sur and Maguindanao. The rest of the country that was not mentioned is under MGCQ with the low-risk transmission of the virus. Cebu City is the only area that remains under the MECQ while Talisay, Minglanilla, and Concepcion of Cebu Province are under GCQ.
Secretary Roque highlighted, “Ingatan ang buhay para sa ating hanap-buhay.” In the last part of the SONA, Roque stated that as of what Professor Rye said, Filipinos should do their best to beat the forecast of UP experts that the number of confirmed cases at the end of July will rise on 80,000. Everyone should be encouraged to do all it takes to combat COVID-19.