President Rodrigo Roa Duterte talks to his ‘kababayans’ after presiding over the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) meeting where they discussed the latest updates on the government’s efforts and programs being implemented to mitigate the effects of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

The President addresses various concerns and issues as the country continues to battle the COVID-19, with the National Capital Region (NCR) or Metro Manila and other cities still placed under the Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ) until May 31, 2020.

He calls on every Filipino to brace for the ‘new normal’ that would provide for more relaxed quarantine protocols while reviving local and national economies. He also urges the people for their full cooperation in following the minimum health standards such as frequent hand washing, wearing of face masks and observing social distancing measures to help flatten the curve. He asks for every Filipino to uphold the bayanihan spirit and resiliency as the country continues to battle the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

President Rodrigo Duterte does not favor the opening of school classes amid the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.

The President added it is useless to talk about the opening of the new school year if the vaccine for COVID-19 is not yet available due to the magnitude of the virus in the country.

Some lawmakers pushed for the postponement of class openings until and unless a vaccine against COVID-19 is developed.

Earlier, the Private Hospitals Association of the Philippines, Inc. wrote a recommendation to Duterte, asking him to replace Health Secretary Francisco Duque III. The President
advised the Health chief not to take to heart criticisms made against him. ‘Don’t be too touchy on issues because always there will be pros and cons’, Duterte said. “Let’s just listen to them because this is a democracy”, he added.

Meanwhile, President Rodrigo Duterte instructed the National Bureau of Investigation to probe the Omnibus Corporation, the local distributor of the test kits purchased by the government for the Department of Health, for its alleged overpricing.

The President also ordered the purchase of protective equipment and backed DOH’s decision to purchase more expensive equipment. “The safety of health workers should not be jeopardized”, Duterte said.

He also reminded local government units to open the gates to returning overseas Filipino workers amid the COVID-19 crisis in the country.

“DILG should ensure that all 24,000 repatriated OFWs would be able to return to their families”, he said. “OFWs have the right to travel and to go home”, he added.

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