LATEST UPDATE as of March 14: Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) has asked the malls to close. This is to ensure people will stay at home, and to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Metro Manila residents have been rummaging supermarkets for alcohol, house disinfectants, and canned goods since the news of a possible lockdown was leaked online on March 12, 2020.
That same day, President Rodrigo Duterte went on air to announce the National Capital Region's month-long community quarantine starting March 15 as a measure to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus in the metropolis.
To stop the hoarding frenzy, Cabinet Spokesperson and Inter-
Nograles said in his interview with Pinky Webb on March 13 on CNN Philippines, "Manufacturing, retail, syempre banks—iyong mga bangko—mananatili, mga market.
"So these are essential services na kinakailangan mag-continue. Life must go on in Metro Manila.
"Kailangan lang natin ma-contain ang movements ng tao at syempre ma-identify pa rin natin ang mga essentials."
Asked if the malls would remain open, Nograles answered, "Well iyong malls, in terms of supermarket, siyempre dapat naka-open po iyon. Siyempre, iyong pharmacy has to be open.
"But with regards to other retail stores, siyempre, maguusap-usap pa kami diyan.
"Basta ang pinaka-basic is pharmacies, markets, supermarkets, ito ang mga essentials.
"Pero iyong mga hindi naman kasama sa grupo, pag-uusapan pa namin..."
Nograles also assured the public of continuous supply of goods throughout the month-long isolation of NCR.
He continued, "Siyempre kapag sinabi mong cargo, hindi naman natin ika-cut off ang supplies ng cargo—pagkain, food supply—to and from Metro Manila.
"At ang pag-transport niyan—necesarily mean, at the very least—ay truck driver and his helper.
"So lalagyan natin ng exception to the rule iyan."
NCR COMMUNITY QUARANTINE day to day
In his interview, Nograles described the community quarantine in Metro Manila as a continuous process that can change from day to day.
He clarified, "One thing is for sure, nothing is constant. We cannot say for certain if these rules will stick the next day.
"If we need to do drastic measures, we need to do drastic measures. No if's and but's iyan.
"So everybody has to adjust, and we seek for everybody's cooperation."
President Duterte, during the press conference last March 12, enumerated the general guidelines in the country's fight against COVID-19.
The President announced the suspension of classes in all levels in Metro Manila until April 12; restriction of mass gatherings; enforcement of barangay quarantine when there are two positive COVID-19 cases in the area; recommendation to implement flexible work arrangement in the private sector, and the ban on "land, domestic air, and domestic sea travel to and from Metro Manila."