LOCKDOWN. Makati City Hall staff distribute food packs in Barangay Pio del Pilar areas that are under localized enhanced community quarantine from Saturday (March 13, 2021) until 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday (March 16, 2021). Barangay Pio del Pilar has 123 Covid-19 active cases, the highest in the city’s 1st District as of March 11. (Photo courtesy of Makati-PIO)

MANILA – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Saturday welcomed the decision of the 17 local government units (LGUs) of Metro Manila to set unified curfew hours from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. starting Monday, calling it “a necessary measure to address the spike in Covid-19 cases.”

The Metro Manila Council (MMC), composed of the local chief executives of Metro Manila LGUs, adopted Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Resolution 21-03 S. 2021, implementing common curfew hours for the whole National Capital Region from March 15 to March 31.

In a news release, DILG spokesperson Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya said declaring unified curfew hours is urgently needed after the Department of Health and other health professionals declared an urgent need to regulate the movement of people because of the spike in cases, which has reached more than 4,000 daily.

"With the imposition of the common curfew hours plus the other policies currently being implemented in Metro LGUs, such as localized/granular lockdowns and the crackdown (on) violators of minimum public health standards, we hope to see a decline of coronavirus cases in the following weeks," Malaya said, urging the public to cooperate.

DILG Officer-in-Charge Bernardo Florece Jr. recently ordered the Philippine National Police to implement a crackdown on quarantine violators, impose the curfew rules, and intensify the enforcement of minimum public health standards in all villages.

Apart from setting common curfew hours, the MMDA resolution likewise imposes granular lockdown, strict implementation of health protocols and standards, and intensified testing, contact tracing, and isolation.

Workers returning from or going to work are exempted from the unified curfew if they present their company identification or other proof to the police or barangay authorities/checkpoints, Malaya explained.

Operators, and/or employees of medical/health care/emergency service, public utility vehicles, food delivery, convenience stores, restaurants, business process outsourcing, wholesale markets and delivery, and other similar or related essential personnel and services are also exempted.

The LGUs will determine who would be exempted from the uniform curfew in Metro Manila, especially the sanctions to be imposed on violators.

“We will have a Metro-wide uniform curfew hours but as to those who will be exempted, we leave it to the LGUs and how they will sanction violators,” he added.

Malaya cited Mandaluyong City, which has been implementing the 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew hours since June 2020, but exempted the delivery of necessities, such as food and medicine; workers assigned on night shifts; and peace and order personnel both in the city and barangay levels from the order.

Quezon City likewise committed to impose more stringent curfew hours “with exemptions for individuals who are still out for purposes of work, or on the way home from work; those dealing with emergencies; or for purposes of air/sea travel as shown by pre-booked tickets.”

On a case-to-case basis, villages may request the city government for authority to impose a longer curfew. (PR)