Extended MECQ ‘highly unlikely’ with no new sources of cash aid funds – Roque

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 11) — A longer period of modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) over Metro Manila and four provinces is "highly unlikely" as the government grapples to find new sources of funds for poor families affected by strict stay-at-home rules, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said on Tuesday.

"Kung pupwede pa talagang magbigay ng ayuda, siguro po pwede pang habaan itong mas striktong community quarantine," he said in a media briefing. "Bottom line po naubos na ang resources for ayuda."

[Translation: If only we can provide cash aid, then we can probably extend the strict community quarantine. But the bottom line is we don't have sources for that.]

The budget for the first two tranches of cash aid distribution were provided under the Bayanihan To Heal As One Act. The "Bayanihan 2," a measure that will provide for the country’s virus response and recovery plan, hurdled the Senate and House of Representatives, but so far it does not carry provisions for another wave of emergency cash subsidy.

President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday said he is supporting the medical community’s call for longer lockdown period in the country because he wants to prevent further contamination of individuals of COVID-19. However, he said the government is “out of money” to give to poor families.

The Inter-Agency Task Force is set to meet on Wednesday to craft its recommendations as to the next community quarantine status of Metro Manila, Rizal, Cavite, Laguna, and Bulacan after the 15-day MECQ ends on August 18. Duterte will announce his decision days before the existing status ends.

Nearly 7,000 new coronavirus cases were reported by the Department of Health (DOH) on Monday, again breaking the country’s COVID-19 record for single-day spike, bringing the national case count to 136,638.

Sixty percent or 4,163 of the new patients are from Metro Manila, according to the case report. The DOH added that Laguna registered 400, Rizal 363, Cavite 312, and Bulacan 178.