VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Imee Marcos falsely claims that PH imposed ‘earliest lockdown … in the world’ vs COVID-19

Read this fact check in Filipino

Sen. Imee Marcos inaccurately claimed that the Philippines imposed the “earliest lockdown … in the world” to curb the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic in the country.

STATEMENT

When asked in a Nov. 30 interview on CNN Philippines to expound on her proposal to allow local government units to ease quarantine restrictions and reopen schools for limited in-person classes in areas with low transmission of COVID-19, Marcos said:

"We know that we've had the earliest, longest, arguably the most expensive lockdown in the world...Without jeopardizing anyone’s health, without threatening anyone with infection, I think it's about time that we start localizing, to the smallest degree, to the smallest possible, quarantines. They cost too much; we can ill afford them.”

Source: CNN Philippines, The Source: Imee Marcos, Nov. 30, 2020, watch from 2:48 to 3:45
FACT

Contrary to Marcos’ claim, at least five countries -- China, Vietnam, Italy, Mongolia and Saudi Arabia -- were ahead of the Philippines in imposing lockdown and quarantine measures to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.

Loading...

On Feb. 13, Vietnam put at least 10,000 residents of Son Loi, a commune in Vinh Phuc province, under quarantine following the discovery of six COVID-19 cases in the area. This lockdown has been considered one of the first mass quarantines outside China, the first country ever to declare a lockdown on Jan. 23 in Wuhan City -- the epicenter of COVID-19 cases -- in view of the rising number of people infected by the contagion.

Other countries followed suit as COVID-19 was fast spreading all around the world. Italy initially locked down 11 municipalities on Feb. 23 for 14 days before completely declaring a nationwide quarantine starting March 10. Saudi Arabia and Mongolia imposed their own community quarantine measures on March 8 and March 10, respectively.

The Philippines imposed a community quarantine only on March 15, four days after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic despite recording its first three confirmed COVID-19 patients, who were all Chinese citizens visiting the country from Wuhan City in late January. One of those patients was the first-ever recorded fatality outside China.

President Rodrigo Duterte initially brushed aside fears about COVID-19 when he said in a Feb. 3 press briefing that the virus will "die a natural death even without a vaccine." (See VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Duterte says he's been warning of 'deadly' COVID-19 from the beginning. Not quite.)

Duterte has since changed his perspective after saying in a number of late night public addresses that a vaccine is the “only answer” against COVID-19. He even asked Filipinos to “postpone” death and wait until the vaccine becomes available by December or January 2021 at the earliest.

Although gradually easing, the sporadic community quarantines in the Philippines are among the longest-running in the world, extending to almost nine months, or 268 days as of Dec. 8. These quarantine measures are classified in four categories, ranging from the strictest enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) to the relaxed modified general community quarantine (MGCQ), all aimed to contain the spread of infection in specific areas.

Except for Metro Manila and seven provinces and cities which are still under GCQ, all other communities in the country are under MGCQ until Dec. 31 in view of the continued high number of COVID-19 infections. As of Dec. 8, more than 442,780 total cases had been recorded in the country, of which 25,325 were classified as recovering; 408,790 as already recovered; and 8,670 dead.

Marcos, an ally of Duterte, echoed the president’s erroneous assertions back in April that the Philippines was the first country to impose a lockdown due to COVID-19. Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque also justified the government’s initial response against the contagion by repeatedly echoing Duterte’s false claims:


Sources

CNN Philippines, The Source: Imee Marcos, Nov. 30, 2020

China lockdown

Vietnam lockdown

Italy lockdown

Saudi Arabia lockdown

Mongolia lockdown

Presidential Communications Operations Office, Gov't imposes community quarantine in Metro Manila to contain coronavirus, March 13, 2002

World Health Organization, WHO Director-General's opening remarks at the media briefing on COVID-19 - 11 March 2020, March 11, 2020

Department of Health, DOH REPORTS 4+9 NEW COVID-19 CASES; TOTAL NOW 33, March 10, 2020

Department of Health, DOH REVEALS MORE NEGATIVE 2019-NCOV CASES; CONFIRMS FIRST NCOV ARD DEATH IN PH, Feb. 2, 2020

Department of Health, DOH CONFIRMS 3RD 2019-NCOV ARD CASE IN PH, Feb. 5, 2020

First COVID-19 fatality outside China

RTVMalacanang, Briefing on the 2019 Novel Coronavirus - Acute Respiratory Disease 2/3/2020, Feb. 3, 2020

Duterte on COVID-19 vaccine

Philippines with one of the longest-running lockdowns

Official Gazette, OMNIBUS GUIDELINES ON THE IMPLEMENTATION OF COMMUNITY QUARANTINE IN THE PHILIPPINES with Amendments as of October 08, 2020, Oct. 10, 2020

Presidential Communications Operations Office, Davao del Norte placed under GCQ starting December 1, Metro Manila, Davao City remain GCQ, Nov. 30, 2020

Department of Health, COVID-19 Case Bulletin No. 269, Dec. 8, 2020


(Guided by the code of principles of the International Fact-Checking Network at Poynter, VERA Files tracks the false claims, flip-flops, misleading statements of public officials and figures, and debunks them with factual evidence. Find out more about this initiative and our methodology.)

FOR FURTHER READING

VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Imee Marcos mali sa pagsabing PH ang 'pinakamaagang nag lockdown ... sa mundo' laban sa COVID-19

Hindi totoo ang sinabi ni Sen. Imee Marcos na Pilipinas ang nagpataw ng "pinakamaagang lockdown … sa…

VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Roque repeats false claim that PH was ‘first’ to impose COVID lockdown in Southeast Asia

Taking off from erroneous assertions of President Rodrigo Duterte, Palace Spokesperson Harry Roque…

VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Duterte repeats false claim that PH was 'first' to impose COVID lockdown in Asia

President Rodrigo Duterte repeated his erroneous claim that the Philippines was the first to impose…

About Vera Files

Founded in March 2008, VERA Files is published by veteran Filipino journalists taking a deeper look into current Philippine issues. Vera is Latin for “true.”

Follow us

MEMBER