MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte should decide on quarantine classifications without “pressure” from the public, Malacañang said Wednesday.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque reiterated his appeal to the OCTA Research team not to publicize their recommendations on quarantine levels, saying Duterte could make better decisions without influence from any person or group.
“Why is it important that these recommendations not be made public? Because it will enable the President to make the correct decision even if it may be an unpopular decision,” Roque said in an interview over CNN Philippines’ The Source.
Because the President had the difficult job of balancing health and the economy, Roque said it was important to give him “leeway” to decide on quarantine classifications.
“Health consideration is very important but as you know we’re now at the point where we’re not talking about the economy, we’re talking about people going hungry, people being malnourished because of the lack of income,” he said.
He acknowledged that the Palace could not stop the research team from publicizing recommendations, but explained that this move would immediately generate public opinion.
“Any recommendation publicly made tends to either influence the President because there would be public opinion generated by the recommendation and we want the President to make the right decision without pressure from the public,” he said.
According to Roque, the research team must allow the President to make decisions pursuant to the national interest.
“Let the political leader decide pursuant to what he thinks is best for the country. I think that is number one, a good way of deferring to the wishes of the people who elected the President to make these kinds of decisions in the first place,” he said.
Roque, meanwhile, clarified that he appreciated the public service being carried out by the research team.
“I appreciate very much the help being extended by OCTA. They basically verify the figures that we already have within the [Department of Health] and within the [Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases],” he said.
On Monday, Duterte’s Cabinet approved the recommendation to consider the escalation of quarantine levels only as a last resort.
Roque pointed out that the IATF decides on quarantine classifications for highly-urbanized cities, but leaves it to local governments to decide on classifications of municipalities.
“We already have a system in the IATF that unless you’re a highly-urbanized city, the classification is decided upon by the provincial governor and the regional IATF,” he said.
The OCTA Research team earlier asked the government to reimpose a stricter quarantine classification or implement localized lockdowns in Bauan in Batangas, Calbayog in Western Samar, and General Trias in Cavite.
Currently, Lanao del Sur province and the cities of Bacolod, Iligan, and Iloilo are also under modified enhanced community quarantine until the end of the month.
Metro Manila and the provinces of Bulacan, Batangas, and the city of Tacloban are under general community quarantine. (PNA)