Mayors, governors can't change quarantine rules in their own areas without IATF approval – Año

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 24) — Local executives must seek the approval of the national government's task force before they decide to amend quarantine rules or put their provinces or cities under lockdown, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said Friday.

"Ang ginawa nating rekomendasyon na inaprubahan ng Pangulo ay ang national government na ang nag-decide kung ano ang probinsya na extended ang ECQ (enhanced community quarantine), kasama na ang Visayas at saka Mindanao," Año said during a televised briefing in Malacañang.

"Ngayon, hindi na pwedeng mag-unilateral declaration ang isang local chief executive na ilalagay niya ang isang probinsya sa ECQ. Ito ay kailangang aprubado ng IATF... at pati sa pagbibigay ng suporta sa SAP (social amelioration program) ay hindi siya makakatanggap," he added.

[Translation: What we recommended, and which was approved by the President is that the national government made the decision which provinces will have an extended ECQ, including Visayas and Mindanao. Now, a local chief executive cannot unilaterally declare that a province will be placed under ECQ. This must be approved by the IATF... they risk not receiving support for SAP.]

The announcement came hours after President Rodrigo Duterte approved the extension of the strict stay-at-home rules in Metro Manila, Bataan, Bulacan, Nueva Ecijia, Pampanga, Batangas, Cavite, Laguna, Rizal, Oriental Mindoro, Occidental Mindoro, Albay, and Catanduanes until May 15.

Other high-risk areas which may be covered by the extended ECQ are Benguet, Pangasinan, Tarlac, and Zambales under enhanced lockdown, but will be reevaluated by April 30. Meanwhile, the situation in Antique, Iloilo, Aklan, Capiz, Cebu, Cebu City, Davao del Norte, Davao City, and Davao de Oro will be rechecked.

This is the second extension announced by government meant to contain the spread of COVID-19. Earlier this month, some mayors and governors in the Visayas and Mindanao issued their own executive orders to copy the two-week lockdown extension from April 15 to April 30 in Luzon.

READ: More provinces, cities extend enhanced community quarantine until April 30

The IATF has crafted several decision tools which classified provinces as low, moderate, or high-risk areas for infections. New Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua explained that authorities used case data, particularly how fast the number of COVID-19 cases double in a locality as well as the critical care capacity of hospitals there in deciding the status of each location.