MANILA, May 28 (Mabuhay) — Malacañang on Thursday raised the possibility that the quarantine classifications in the country might be relaxed in June.

“Everything else being considered, there is a likelihood na mas magluluwag ang ating quarantine classification (that the quarantine classification will be eased),” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in an online press conference.

Roque made the statement, as he cited the significant drop in the average coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) daily attack rate, two-week growth rate, and hospital care utilization rate all throughout the country.

Roque noted that the nationwide average daily attack rate declined to 5.42 per 100,000 population registered on May 9 to 22 from the previous 9.2 per 100,000 population posted on April 4 to 17.

He added that the overall two-week growth rate also dropped from -21 percent to 11 percent.

The overall hospital care utilization rate also decreased to 43 percent on May 25 from 68 percent on April 7 to 16, Roque said.

“So, I guess by way of conclusion there’s a likelihood that the quarantine classification might be relaxed on the basis of formula,” he said.

However, Roque said the implementation of new quarantine status in Metro Manila will be subject to the recommendation of the local government units (LGUs) in the country’s metropolis that “further reopening should be gradual.”

The possible relaxation of quarantine restrictions in June might be announced during President Rodrigo Duterte’s “Talk to the People” on Monday night, Roque said.

“It could be announced by the President himself on the [May] 31st or it could be announced earlier after maproseso iyong mga appeal ng ilang mga LGU (the processing of LGUs’ appeal). Pero considering that Monday is the 31st, I prefer that the President be the one to announce it),” he said.

Roque said members of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) would also make a recommendation on the country’s implementation of travel restrictions on passengers from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Sri Lanka.

The Philippines extended the prohibition of entry of travelers from India and four other countries that are part of the Indian subcontinent until May 31.

The country also decided to expand the coverage of the travel ban by including Oman and the United Arab Emirates after two overseas Filipino workers who returned from the Arab states tested positive for India’s “double mutant” B.1.617 variant.

Budget for OFWs

In the same press briefing, Roque announced that Duterte has also approved the additional PHP5-billion allocation for the repatriation of OFWs.

This developed after Duterte vowed Monday to expedite the return of OFWs who lost their jobs due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Ito po’y pambayad sa mga hotel na alam nating lumulobo dahil nga po mas matagal na ngayon ang quarantine period (This is for payment of hotel rent that already ballooned because of longer quarantine period),” he said.

All OFWs who will return to the country are mandated to stay in a quarantine facility for 10 days and observe home quarantine for four days, based on the IATF-EID Resolution 114.

They are also required to undertake reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction testing on their seventh day in the country.

Earlier, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) sought a supplemental budget of PHP9.8 billion to fund the food, transportation, and accommodation of returning OFWs.

Roque said the government may look for additional funds to grant OWWA’s request.

“Ito’y kalahati lamang ng request ng OWWA. So, titignan po natin kung anong mangyayari (The PHP5-billion approved budget is just half of the OWWA’s request. So, we will see what will happen). There may have to be further supplemental budget or there may have to be amendments of our existing protocols,” he said.

Bayanihan 3

Meantime, Roque also thanked the House of Representatives for passing on second reading the Bayanihan to Arise as One bill or the Bayanihan 3 on Tuesday.

Roque said Bayanihan 3, which contains a PHP401 billion stimulus package to provide more aid to Filipinos amid the pandemic, would make it easier for the government to tap more funds in case it needs a supplemental budget.

“Nagpapasalamat po kami talaga sa Kamara del Representante dahil kung talagang gagamitin po natin ang Bayanihan 3, naririyan na siya at hindi na tayo kinakailangang magkukumahog kung talagang kinakailangan natin ng supplemental budget (We thank the House of Representatives because if Bayanihan 3 is already there, we will not run out of time if we need supplemental budget),” he said. (MNS)

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