(MNS Photo)

MANILA, Jan 4 (Mabuhay) — A policy of the Metro Manila Council (MMC) urging the local government units (LGUs) in the National Capital Region to enact ordinances for enhanced restriction on unvaccinated individuals is proper and reasonable, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) said on Monday.

Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said the DILG fully supports the resolution of the MMC that the unvaccinated should remain at home and shall not be allowed access to restaurants and the like.

“Eighty percent of those in the Intensive Care Unit are unvaccinated. It’s only proper and reasonable for the MMC to implement such a policy,” he said in a statement.

He said vaccination, coupled with strict adherence to minimum public health standards (MPHS), will allow authorities to control the surge of the Delta and probably the Omicron variants.

“To ensure that NCR residents and workers are protected from community infections, it is but proper that only vaccinated individuals will be allowed unrestricted mobility,” he stressed.

In the Laging Handa briefing, DILG spokesperson Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya said the DILG “fully support” the MMC decision amid the rising cases of Covid-19 cases and the threat of Omicron variant.

“We fully support the decision of the Metro Manila Council na ipagbawal ang mga (to ban) unvaccinated individuals in public places, alam naman natin na yung mga (we know that) unvaccinated individuals pose threat to the community, therefore maganda yung naging desisyon nila na dapat ay nasa mga kabahayan lamang sila (their decision is good that the unvaccinated should remain in their homes) and they should not be allowed in restaurants, leisure establishments, to go on social trips, malls, public transportation,” Malaya said.

Malaya said the DILG also supports Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Benhur Abalos’ announcement that unvaccinated workers in the NCR will have to take reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests every two weeks at their own expense.

In the same public briefing, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez and Presidential Adviser for Covid-19 Response Vivencio Dizon lauded the decision of Metro Manila mayors to restrict the mobility of unvaccinated individuals amid a spike in daily Covid-19 cases.

“We’d like to thank MMDA Chairman Abalos and the mayors, (because) they limit the movement of the unvaccinated to essential activities and they have given the privilege to those vaccinated,” Lopez said.

He added that this move could encourage people to get their Covid-19 jabs as Metro Manila has an adequate supply of vaccines.

“This is very important because we know that Omicron and (other strains of) Covid-19 will really target those who are not vaccinated,” Dizon said.

On Monday, the Department of Health (DOH) said the country is now classified again as “high risk” for Covid-19 as a two-week growth rate recorded at 222 percent.

DOH reported 4,084 new cases this day, increasing the active Covid-19 cases in the country to 24,992.

“We have seen that the Omicron variant has spread all over the world. There is a sharp increase in cases in the US, Europe, and Asia. We all know that the Philippines will inevitably be hit,” Dizon said.

He added that while there is the threat of the new Covid-19 strain, the recent holidays have contributed to the spread of infection in the past weeks wherein minimum public health protocols were no longer observed.

He reminded Filipinos to strictly follow minimum health standards and get vaccinated with primary and booster shots against Covid-19.

Meanwhile, Año directed the Philippine National Police (PNP) to assist the LGUs in the NCR in implementing the 30 percent indoor capacity and 50 percent outdoor capacity under Alert Level 3.

“I have also directed the NCRPO (National Capital Region Police Office) to do random inspections of all business establishments to make sure that the operational limitations are followed, and only the vaccinated can access restaurants, leisure establishments, malls, public transportation, and similar establishments,” he said.

Meanwhile, PNP chief Gen. Dionardo Carlos said the PNP is ready to assist the LGUs in enforcing local mandates arising from the declaration of Alert Level 3 in Metro Manila.

“We saw this coming. The imposition of Alert Level 3 in NCR will definitely trigger Local Chief Executives to lay down guidelines following the National protocol set by the IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases). We expect more LGUs to announce soon,” Carlos said in a separate statement on Monday.

He called on every police unit to get oriented with the local executive orders.

“Notwithstanding the authority of LGUs to enforce their own ordinances and executive orders, the PNP will remain vigilant in upholding human rights and civil liberties that may be violated in the course of wrong interpretation of these local statutes. The PNP will exercise flexibility to ensure that human rights are protected and the law is applied equally to all,” Carlos said. (MNS)

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