Coronavirus lockdown strikes fear among Manila’s poor

Cecil Carino agonised over her decision. On Thursday evening, the resident of San Roque – a maze of cramped, makeshift dwellings buried within the heart of Quezon City – listened to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte issue a lockdown order for Metro Manila due to the coronavirus pandemic, which has now spread to more than 114 countries.

The unprecedented lockdown, which takes effect between March 15 and April 14, will bar domestic travel in and out of the capital and confine more than 12 million people to the area.

It gave Carino, 37, less than two days to choose between waiting out the lockdown with her family, or taking her children to a relative’s home outside of Manila and leaving her husband, a construction worker, behind.

“[He] will stay. No work, no pay,” she said. “But it’s possible the company will shut down, maybe tomorrow.”

In his address, Duterte vowed to deploy police and military to instil “peace and order” during the lockdown, which was recommended earlier that day by an interagency committee. He insisted the measure is “not martial law”.


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