Philippines announces coronavirus lockdown of Metro Manila

1 / 2
Workers disinfect a school following new cases of coronavirus in the city, in San Juan, Metro Manila, Philippines, Mar. 9, 2020. (Reuters)
2 / 2
A girl wearing a protective mask, following an outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), stands on a sidewalk in Manila, Philippines, Mar. 12, 2020. (Reuters)
Short Url
Updated 12 March 2020

Philippines announces coronavirus lockdown of Metro Manila

  • More than 12 million people in the capital region under “community quarantine”
  • Land, air, and sea travel to Metro Manila will be suspended from March 15 to April 14

MANILA: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday evening announced a lockdown of the national capital region, Metro Manila, to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
“Land, domestic air, and domestic sea travel to and from Metro Manila shall be suspended beginning 12 midnight on March 15, 2020 until April 14, 2020,” Duterte said.
To avoid using the term “lockdown,” the president referred to the move as “community quarantine.”
“We don’t want to use that term (lockdown) because it stokes fear. But it’s a lockdown. There’s no struggle of power here . . . it’s just an issue of protecting and defending you (the public) from COVID-19,” he said.
Metro Manila comprises 16 cities — Manila, Quezon City, Caloocan, Las Pinas, Makati, Malabon, Mandaluyong, Marikina, Muntinlupa, Navotas, Paranaque, Pasay, Pasig, San Juan, Taguig, and Valenzuela, — and the municipality of Pateros. The region’s population is more than 12 million.
While mass gatherings will be prohibited during the period, public transport within Metro Manila will remain operational. Schools are suspended until April.
With a series of measures advised for the public and private sector, Duterte said they will be subject to daily monitoring and reassessment by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID).
“The crisis is very, very clear. Covid-19 is spreading all throughout the country,” the president said, as he urged members of the public not to panic and to practice social distancing.
Interior and local government secretary Eduardo Ano explained in a radio interview that while travel is being restricted in and out of Metro Manila, “it is not a total lockdown.”
“We are just restricting movement coming in and going out of Metro Manila because we want to prevent the spread of the virus,” he said, adding that those working in Metro Manila who live outside the capital region will be allowed entry.
Duterte himself was tested for the coronavirus on Thursday afternoon, as several members of his cabinet went on self-quarantine following exposure to infected individuals.
There are now 52 confirmed coronavirus cases in the Philippines. The Department of Health has raised the virus death toll to five.


Top Kazakh family wins court ruling on London mansions

Updated 7 min 18 sec ago

Top Kazakh family wins court ruling on London mansions

LONDON: The daughter and grandson of a former Kazakhstan president won a British court ruling Wednesday over plans to seize three multimillion-pound London properties from the family.
The UK’s National Crime Agency had obtained unexplained wealth orders (UWOs) against the luxury properties, said to be worth a total of around £80 million ($96 million), last May.
UWOs, brought into force in January 2018 under so-called “McMafia laws” — named after a BBC organized crime drama — allows the NCA to seize assets if they believe the owner is a “politically exposed person” and unable to explain the source of their wealth.
The NCA said the properties’ purchases were funded by Rakhat Aliyev, a former senior member of the Kazakh government who died in an Austrian prison in 2015 while awaiting trial on two charges of murder.
However, in a High Court judgment, given remotely, judge Beverley Lang overturned all three UWOs, ruling that “the NCA’s assumption” that Aliyev was the source of the funds to purchase the three properties was “unreliable.”
The ultimate beneficial owners of the three properties — Aliyev’s ex-wife, Dariga Nazarbayeva, the current chairwoman of the senate in Kazakhstan and daughter of former Kazakh president Nursultan Nazarbayev, and her son, Nurali Aliyev — had applied to the High Court to discharge the UWOs.
The judge added that there was “cogent evidence” that Nazarbayeva and Nurali Aliyev had founded the companies that owned the properties and provided the funds to purchase them.
Following the ruling, Nurali Aliyev said the NCA had carried out a “flawed investigation.”
“The NCA deliberately ignored the relevant information I voluntarily provided and pursued a groundless and vicious legal action, including making shocking slurs against me, my family and my country,” he said in a statement.
“Today we have been vindicated.”
The properties were located across London, including one on a wealthy street known as “Billionaires’ Row” and another which campaign group Transparency International says is worth £31 million.
A Nazarbayeva representative said the court decision left her “entirely vindicated” and showed she had “not been involved in any wrongdoing.”
“Dr. Nazarbayeva is also deeply disappointed that the NCA thought it appropriate to use the cloak of these court proceedings to make damaging attacks on her reputation and her country, unfairly insulting Dr. Nazarbayeva and her 18 million compatriots.”