President Duterte urges Filipinos to refrain from large Christmas gatherings to decrease possible risk of COVID-19 surge

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte presides over a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) core members prior to his talk to the people at the Malacañang Golf (Malago) Clubhouse in Malacañang Park, Manila on December 7, 2020. I King Rodriguez, Presidential Photo

To help mitigate the spread of COVID-19, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on Monday appealed to Filipinos to refrain from attending Christmas parties and large gatherings at least for this year’s holiday celebration which the government said could result in a possible surge in the number of infections.

“You might think that this is too much. Government does not control us. Of course, we cannot control you individually if what you do is what you want. The problem is we are preventing you from getting other people sick. So that’s the problem,” President Duterte said in his weekly address to the nation.

“Almost in your adult and younger years, you had parties every Christmas. Would you be kind enough just to skip the — not really frivolous but the festivities, iwasan na muna ninyo. You avoid it because it is for your own good and for the good of the community and eventually for the good of the country,” he added.

He apologized for the government curtailment of so many things that the public used to do during Christmas time. But the President wants Filipinos to look at it in a different way.

“All of the Christmas of your lifetime, ngayon lang naman ito isang beses hinihingi ng gobyerno para sa iyo. Ang ano dito is para sa iyo, hindi para sa gobyerno,” he said, adding the government is just adhering to the will of the general population to remain healthy.

The President also expressed a message of commendation for the country’s frontliners against COVID-19 — the doctors and nurses who take care of sick people.

“We salute you many times and please continue to do so and may God bless you,” he said.

In his report to the President, Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año said the current focus of the local government units (LGUs) is to carry out strict implementation of the minimum health standard and quarantine protocols during the holiday season.

Año said the Philippine National Police-Joint Task Force COVID Shield, under Lt. Gen. Cesar Binag, is assisting the LGUs in implementing the health protocols.

“Kanina nga po ay nagkaroon ng pagpupulong ang DOH, DILG, at NCR mayors para sa mga paghahanda na ito. Sapagkat nag-e-expect po tayo na baka magkaroon ng surge pagkatapos po ng holidays dahil ang tendency ng mga tao ay magsaya, lumabas, mag-malling, kaya kailangan po ay nakahanda kaming lahat,” Año told the President.

Metro Manila’s local chief executives agreed to allow 18 to 65 years old to go out although 15 to 65 years old are free to roam in public particularly in areas under the modified general community quarantine (MGCQ).

Mass gatherings such as Christmas parties, carolings and reunions are strictly prohibited, Año said. He advised people to celebrate the holiday only with their immediate family or household members.

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