President Rodrigo Roa Duterte updates the nation on the government’s efforts in addressing the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at the Matina Enclaves in Davao City on June 4, 2020. JOEY DALUMPINES/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

President Rodrigo Duterte is not inclined to place the entire Philippines under modified general community quarantine, Malacañang said on Monday.

In a statement, Palace spokesman Harry Roque said Duterte would only place the country under the less-stringent classification once the country begins its mass inoculation drive.

“President Rodrigo Roa Duterte gave his directive to the Cabinet that the Philippines would not be placed under [MGCQ] unless there is a rollout of vaccines,” Roque said.

“The chief executive recognizes the importance of re-opening the economy and its impact on people’s livelihoods. However, the president gives higher premium to public health and safety,” he added.

Roque said Duterte wanted the vaccination to start at the “soonest possible time” to ease the community quarantine classifications.

The National Economic and Development Authority earlier recommended placing the country under MGCQ to reduce hunger and restart jobs amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

The country has recorded 563,456 Covid-19 cases as of Feb. 22. John Ezekiel J. Hirro