Metro Manila Mayors Want Eased Restrictions for the Fully Vaccinated

The proposal was a unanimous decision.

Barangay 63 in Pasay City under granular lockdown on August 16.
PHOTO BY Jerome Ascano

(SPOT.ph) The Department of Health on September 8 reported that the National Capital Region remains to have the most number of COVID-19 cases in the Philippines. In the last 14 days, cases reached 56,241, while nearby CALABARZON has 44,480 infected cases. Despite these numbers, the Metro Manila Council urged the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases to consider easing quarantine restrictions among fully vaccinated individuals in the National Capital Region (NCR). The unanimous decision was made "to bolster economic activities in the region," they said in a statement released on September 9. The Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) has yet to respond.

"With the NCR being considered right now to be the epicenter of this pandemic and the region with the most number of vaccinated individuals, we are confident that we can find the right balance between safeguarding the public’s health and reviving economy," Metropolitan Manila Development Authority Chairman Benhur Abalos said.

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The Council claims that around 56% of the eligible population in NCR have completed their COVID-19 doses as of September 8, while 84.21% already received their first shot.

The 17 Metro Manila mayors urge IATF to "consider the easing of the COVID-19 guidelines for full-vaccinated individuals in the NCR subject to the conduct of an inter-agency and inter-disciplinary study to determine the appropriate policy therefore based on scientific and empirical evidence," according to the resolution.

Also read:
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Cebu Is Shortening Quarantine Time for Returning Filipinos

"Undue Discrimination": CHR

Similar proposals were already floated by various officials in August, particularly the so-called "bakuna bubble." This pitch poses that fully jabbed individuals can access establishments inside a bubble, while the unvaccinated need to present a negative COVID-19 test.

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House Deputy Minority Leader Stella Quimbo, on the other hand, proposed the "business bubble," where businesses which have at least 70% of fully vaccinated employees can return to their workplaces.

"For certain businesses, for certain work places that would be safe because either employees are vaccinated or there's 70% of employees vaccinated, at the same time there is commitment to do regular testing or commitment against social distancing. Why don't we allow them to operate?" she said on September 3.

The Commission on Human Rights, however, said on September 7 that the proposal to increase mobility of fully vaccinated people and restrict the movement of the unvaccinated is grounds for "undue discrimination."

“Any mode of restriction of rights, such as the people’s freedom of movement, should be based on scientific evidence; should neither arbitrary nor discriminatory; and should especially be mindful of its possible disproportionate impacts to marginalized populations,” spokesperson Jacqueline De Guia said.

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The Commission on Human Rights official reiterated that the "challenge on vaccine supply in the country remains." She also wanted to remind the government "to always consider respect for the rights of all and ensure that no one is left behind."

Last-Minute MECQ Extension

Earlier on Thursday, San Juan Mayor Francis Zamora said in a televised public briefing that he could not confirm why the national government retracted the decision to implement General Community Quarantine in the NCR at the last minute.

"We are just waiting for the guidelines. In fact, we were ready to implement already yesterday ‘yong GCQ with alert levels and granular lockdowns," he explained.

Similarly, Marikina Mayor Marcy Teodoro said: "Kailangan maraming ingat ang gagawin at maging malinaw para hindi maulit ang nangyari kahapon na urong-sulong tayo, laban-bawi. 'Yong kredibilidad pati ng ating policy-makers ay nalalagay sa alanganin." Like all Metro Manila mayors, he wants IATF to clarify the requirements as to when an area should be locked down.

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