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Palace on MECQ extension: Anything is possible but highly unlikely

Malacañang on Tuesday said an extension of the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) in Metro Manila and nearby provinces to curb the spread of COVID-19 would be “highly unlikely.”

“Ang tanong kung posible, ang sagot ko, anything is possible but highly unlikely,” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said in a televised briefing when asked if the MECQ will still be implemented after August 18.

Roque added that while strict lockdowns helped prevent the spread of the virus, the government no longer has enough funds to support the cash assistance to vulnerable sectors of society.

“Ang Presidente naman po, straightforward, transparent, wala na pong ayuda para doon sa hindi makapagtrabaho kaya kinakailangan po mabuhay, despite and in spite [of]; protektahan po natin ang ating kalusugan ng tayo po ay makasulong sa ating pang-araw-araw na buhay,” he said.

The Palace earlier said the decision on whether to extend the MECQ will entail a delicate balance between public health and economy.

President Rodrigo Duterte placed Metro Manila, Laguna, Cavite, Rizal, and Bulacan under MECQ from August 4 to 18 following pleas from the medical community for a “timeout” amid rising COVID-19 cases being admitted to hospitals and recalibration of strategies to combat the virus.

Roque said the effects of the MECQ would be felt two to three weeks after its enforcement.

The Philippines has so far reported 136,638 COVID-19 cases, including 2,293 deaths and 68,159 recoveries. — RSJ, GMA News