On the night of March 17, President Rodrigo Duterte declared a state of calamity in the Philippines to control the rapid spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the country. As of this writing, the Philippines has a total of 187 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with 14 deaths and six recoveries.
But what does a "state of calamity" mean, exactly? Here are answers to your frequently asked questions:
How long will the Philippines be under a state of calamity?
It will be for a period of six months unless lifted earlier OR extended by the President depending on the circumstances.
Will there be peace and order?
Law enforcement agencies, with the support from the Armed Forces of the Philippines, will "undertake all necessary measures to ensure peace and order in affected areas, as may be necessary."
How will government agencies ensure immediate action?
During the state of calamity, all Local Government Units (LGUs) may use their Quick Response Fund (QRF). This is basically an allocated fund "to immediately assist areas stricken by catastrophes and crises." Agencies like the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and the Department of Education (DepEd) have QRFs.
Are prices gonna go up?
To avoid illegal price manipulation and hoarding, the Department of Health (DOH), Department of Agriculture (DA), and Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) will be monitoring and reviewing the prices of basic commodities like food and medicine. There will be a price control on basic food commodities and medical supplies.
On March 7, the DOH raised Code Red Sub-Level 1 alert following the first local transmission of COVID-19 in the country. The total number of infections at this time was 49.
March 12: With 52 confirmed cases in the country, Code Red Sub-Level 2 was raised. President Duterte placed a community quarantine over Metro Manila to help curb the spread of COVID-19.
On March 14, The MMDA recommended a curfew from 8:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. starting March 15 until April 14. It was announced that checkpoints would be placed and workers coming in and out of Metro Manila would need to provide proof of employment and/or business.
March 16: Malacañang officially placed Luzon under "enhanced" community quarantine as a measure to contain the spread of COVID-19. All mass transport facilities were suspended, while land, air, and sea travel would be restricted. Strict home quarantine was advised to be followed by all households.