Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte has lauded President Duterte’s decision to keep Metro Manila under general community quarantine (GCQ) until the rollout of vaccines against coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) starts.

Belmonte was one of eight Metro Manila mayors who voted to keep the GCQ status in the region, but they were outvoted by nine colleagues who chose modified GCQ by March.

But President Duterte, putting higher premium on public health and safety, opted to keep the National Capital Region (NCR) under GCQ.

“To say I was relieved at President Duterte’s statement yesterday is an understatement; I am extremely happy,” Belmonte said in a television interview.

“We laud the President for his wisdom and for placing the health and welfare of the Filipino people above anything else,” she added in a separate statement.

In any case, Belmonte said the local government was prepared if President Duterte declared the shift to MGCQ next month.

“We’ve already anticipated what to do, ramping up contact tracing, testing and early detection,” said Belmonte.

Despite this, Belmonte is leaving no stone unturned as she stressed the need to ensure the strict enforcement of safety and health protocols.

As for the opening of cinemas, Belmonte said the national government should look to reopen other sectors that would bring higher economic impact but with lesser risk.