Is MGCQ the way to go?
By Leonardo Micua
CAN the country now afford to adjust its status to the less restrictive Modified General Community Quarantine (MGCQ) by March 1 as recommended by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) fortnight ago?
This question will be answered soon by officials tasked to make a recommendation to President Rodrigo Duterte on what status would be the best for the entire country given the statistics from NEDA that since the start of the pandemic, the country already lost as much as P1.94 trillion or an average daily loss of P2.8 billion.
Acting Socio-Economic Planning and Development Secretary Karl Chua was forthright when he sought lesser restrictions in a bid to address the problem of hunger, which was like saying that the number of hungry Filipinos has grown to unprecedented level since the contagion wrought havoc in our lives.
In a briefing in Malacanang, Chua underscored on the need for businesses and industries that were closed to reopen to again pump prime the economy which was put into near shambles by COVID-19, and the bad news is there appears to be no end in sight unless we are vaccinated.
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It was learned that the metro mayors, agreed in a consensus to allow their cities to transition to Modified General Community Quarantine (MGCQ) from the present General Community Quarantine, in a virtual conformity with the recommendation of NEDA.
It was on this score that the national IATF recommended the reopening of cinemas, hoping they can bring back their workers, and workers of allied industries estimated to be more than 300,000 all over the country, to help propel the economy of that sector.
Metro Manila, which is still under MGCQ, just like with Cordillera Administrative Region, Batangas, Tacloban City, Davao de Norte, Lanao del Sur and Iligan City, will be the greatest beneficiary if cinemas return soon.
But wait, there is this late warning addressed to the Philippines from the World Health Organization that COVID cases will likely upsurge if restrictions are eased.
UP OCTA Research Group is also opposed to placing the whole country under a less restrictive quarantine status till perhaps many of our citizens have already been vaccinated by anti-COVID-19 vaccines. But that remains a big “If” because the vaccines expected from abroad have not arrived.
Like WHO, OCTA Research believes that once restrictions are removed to give way to economic pursuits, the number of COVID-19, patients will rise again.
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The request of three bus companies to LTFRB for special permits to resume their inter-provincial operations got the much-needed support from Governor Pogi Espino. This can be gleaned from his December 29, 2020 letter to LTFRB Regional Director Nasrudin Talipasan, who in turn already reportedly forwarded it to their central office.
We expect that because of such initiative, Five Star Bus Co, Inc,, Victory Liner, Inc. and First North Luzon Transit Inc will be back on the road to commute passengers from Pangasinan to certain points in Quezon City and vice versa, which is actually the best strategy to usher in the country’s economic recovery.
Without long-distance buses that will link provinces with Metro Manila and vice versa, developments in those places would be relatively slow. Note that Pangasinan is under MGCQ in contrast to Manila that remains under GCQ.
You know, I found out that vans offering transport from Pangasinan to Manila are charging P1,800 per head. It is that high because the van can only load four passengers in accordance with the guidelines of the national IATF.
The passenger, however, has to secure his or her travel permit, health certificate and identification papers before being allowed to board a van for Manila.
What a relief it would be if inter-provincial buses are allowed to operate soon.
In Dagupan, the buses of Victory Liner as well as the Solid North/Dagupan Bus remain idled at their respective terminals. I wonder if Mayor Brian Lim also took time out to endorse the requests of these bus companies to also resume their inter-provincial operations.
Maybe not, or maybe soon following the example set by the province.
Take note that buses of Five Star Bus Inc. are the only ones observed to be plying some routes in the province.
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