President Rodrigo Duterte Thursday told the public to skip fiesta celebrations and similar gatherings amid the prevailing coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic.
Duterte made the call in a taped public address, as he acknowledged that different parts of the country are used to holding annual festivals every May.
“Sinasabi ko lang na Mayo, maraming fiesta (I am saying that there are so many festivals in May),” he said. “I do not attribute it to any other particular region or what but there are a lot of fiestas kasi (because we are in a) predominantly country. So, ang hinihingi ko (So, what I am asking) is that you only not tone down but forgo kasi may batas (because we are implementing the law). Forgo to congregate, to crowd and to hold fiesta.”
His statement came, after he decided to relax the quarantine restrictions in the National Capital Region Plus, composed of Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal.
NCR Plus will be placed under general community quarantine “with heightened restrictions” from May 15 to 31.
Duterte reminded fellow Filipinos that he would not tolerate any individuals who will defy the existing health and quarantine protocols imposed by the government to avoid another surge in Covid-19 infections.
“Be mindful of that because we are still in pandemic and there is no way of knowing how long this would last in this planet. I will not allow the violations of the guidelines given by the task force,” he said.
Duterte reiterated that he would punish accountable local officials, who would fail to enforce the minimum public health standards.
“I will hold local governments down to the last barangay level and therefore, it could only be the barangay captains. I will hold you responsible for any violation sa mga itong mga batas na hindi natutupad (for the laws that are being violated),” he said.
Duterte told the public to continue observing the health and quarantine rules to keep them safe from Covid-19.
Filipinos’ failure to follow protocols would only lead to another spike in Covid-19 infections, Duterte said.
“You go out, you just go hunting for the virus to enter your body and pass it on, and that is a problem. So nakikiusap ako (So I am asking you), and I said there are a lot of fiestas, which you would like to hold. The problem is there is also the consequence, which you must be mindful of,” he said.
Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Panelo, who joined the meeting with Duterte virtually, warned of “super spreader events”, should people continue to gather despite the threat posed by Covid-19.
Panelo said public cooperation is necessary to boost the country’s ongoing fight against Covid-19.
On Thursday, the Philippines reported 6,384 new daily Covid-19 cases, bringing the total active case count to 55,260. Around 1,050,643 coronavirus-infected individuals have already recovered, while 18,821 have died.*PNA