'This is Not Martial Law:' Making Sense of ‘Enhanced Community Quarantine’
President Rodrigo Duterte has announced that Metro Manila’s “general community quarantine” will be elevated to a full “enhanced community quarantine” of all of mainland Luzon. This comes after thousands if not millions of Filipinos were stuck in massive crowds due to traffic caused by various checkpoints.
Despite demands to practice “social distancing,” the condition was not met as private companies required many of its employees to go to work even during the community quarantine. Daily wage earners had no choice but to sit through hours of traffic and checkpoints to get to work, defeating the purpose of community quarantine.
As photos and accounts of Day Two’s failures surfaced on social media, it became apparent that “general” community quarantine was not enough.
The last few days have been a rollercoaster, and sometimes, these press conferences are even more confusing. We’ve broken down Duterte’s speech to answer all the questions we have right now.
Based on Duterte’s recorded speech, this is what’s going to happen in the next few weeks:
Enhanced community quarantine starts tomorrow.
Duterte announced that he is elevating community quarantine from “general” to “enhanced,” which will take effect tonight at midnight.
General community quarantine states that movement of people will be limited only for accessing basic necessities and for work; and that uniformed personnel and quarantine officers will be present at borders points. This is what we saw yesterday and today, but things will change tomorrow.
Enhanced community quarantine will implement more stringent rules, like stricter home quarantine, suspension of transportation, regulation of food and health services, and an increased presence of uniformed personnel to enforce the enhanced community quarantine.
The enhanced community quarantine will now cover all of Luzon, including Rizal, Cavite, Batangas, and Laguna, where there are already confirmed COVID-19 cases.
Long story short: there will be far less leeway with enhanced community quarantine.
Mayors and barangay captains need to take charge.
Duterte frequently mentioned mayors and barangay captains in his speech, implying that the enforcement of these rules rests primarily on the shoulders of our local government units.
Mayors can now issue executive orders to “make the environment of their municipality more conducive to a healing process,” meaning that they will be the ones to enforce Duterte’s orders and to create new ones if necessary. They have the power to decide on the actions best fit for their community without waiting for the national governments say.
Mayors and barangay captains, as well as councilors and other LGU officials, must also be the ones to ensure everyone has enough food, majority are staying home, and no one is leaving for unnecessary reasons.
“If you violate this, then you will be liable,” stated Duterte.
There will be enough food.
The primary concern of enhanced community quarantine is that food will run out. However, it has been stated before, in official memorandums and in press conferences, that cargo, shipments, and deliveries will not stop. They will go on as normal, meaning supermarkets will continue to be supplied with food for everyone.
Duterte reassured the public there will be enough food, and big food businesses like San Miguel Corporation (which sells meat, canned food, snacks, etc.) have decided to work with the government to ensure that we will not run out of food.
Under enhanced community quarantine, citizens will be allowed to leave their house (before curfew) to go to the supermarket, pharmacy, and other stores deemed necessary to keep open.
Big businesses need to step up.
After mentioning San Miguel Corporation’s (SMC) efforts, Duterte lauded its president, Ramon S. Ang (RSA), for stepping up to the plate. SMC is also ensuring all of its employees will be paid during the one-month quarantine, and majority will work from home.
Duterte also called on other big businesses and tycoons (pointing out Manny Pangilinan, Jaime and Ferdinand Zobel de Ayala, Enrique Razon, and Lance Gokongwei) to do their part in this time of crisis. The president noted that these big businesses have the capacity to help “alleviate the situation” if they could “understand the plight of the workers.”
As these workers are not in a position to demand anything from these companies, Duterte called on their bosses to do what they can to help their employees as well as the general public by whatever means they can.
Companies should release 13th month pay now.
Duterte is also asking all businesses to give their employees their 13th month pay or half of their salary if they can’t show up for work.
He is also asking for malls and commercial spaces to waive the rental fee for the duration of the quarantine, to further assist struggling businesses. This request was also stated in a memo released by the Department of Trade and Industry earlier today.
This is not Martial Law.
Duterte stated more than once during the press conference that this is not Martial Law, in a rebuttal against critics noting the presence of army personnel instead of healthcare workers.
The president explained that the constitution defined that Martial Law only occurs during invasions, rebellions, or threats to public safety. He also said that the freedom of movement is not completely curtailed as you will be allowed to leave the house to buy food, medicine, and other necessary items.
Yet, “You can be arrested if you don’t follow orders for public disobedience.”
Some businesses need to close temporarily, but they will be compensated.
Businesses, both small and big, will be severely impacted, and Duterte is requesting to close all businesses that might spread the virus.
“Close businesses to not propagate the disease,” said Duterte.
And should businesses lose profits from this, which they will, he stated that the government has enough money to compensate for money lost.
“I will pay.”
Utility bills to be postponed.
Utility bills for the one-month quarantine are also to be postponed, not waived. This is to ensure residents stay indoors rather than leave the house to pay the bills, and to allow people to prioritize their money for food.
We are all soldiers.
As more cases are being reported every day with negative news occupying our news feeds, now more than ever is the time for bayanihan to help the community and take extra precautions so as to not unknowingly spread the virus to the elderly and the sick.
“[We are] at war against an invisible enemy that cannot be seen by the naked eye,” said the president. “We are all soldiers.”
Officials of the Inter Agency Task Force (IATF) held a press conference immediately after President Duterte's statement to discuss the enhanced community quarantine in greater detail.