PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte is expected to decide whether to lift or extend a Luzon-wide lockdown that has brought the Philippine economy to a standstill amid the coronavirus disease pandemic, and will probably continue to mandate social distancing protocols in the absence of any cure.

The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) will present to an inter-agency task force made up of Cabinet officials its recommendations once the lockdown that started on March 17 expires on April 30, NEDA Undersecretary Rosemarie G. Edillon said in a mobile-phone message on Sunday.

“The matter will still be presented before the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF), the parameters to be used and the decision,” she said. “We just know that social distancing will still be observed.”

Albay Rep. Jose Maria Clemente S. Salceda yesterday said the Luzon lockdown should be extended by two more weeks.

“The risk of a resurgence of infection remains significant and the total economic cost of a resurgence in infection is triple the cost,” he told CNN Philippines.

The congressman said 130,000 people will have been tested by the end of April, which is “too small for a country of 110 million.”

NEDA heads the IATF technical working group that will recommend measures and policies in the battle against the COVID-19 virus.

Ms. Edillon said their recommendations would be used in Mr. Duterte’s decision on the lockdown.

Mr. Duterte can either lift, extend or modify lockdown protocols meant to contain the pandemic that has sickened 6,259 and killed 409 people in the Philippines.

The President will meet with health experts today including, former Health secretaries, to discuss options, Senator Christopher Lawrence T. Go, his former aide, told DZBB radio yesterday.

Mr. Duterte locked down the entire Luzon island on March 17, suspending work, classes and public transportation to contain the pandemic. He later extended it by two more weeks until April 30.

Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra, a task force member, said it was not practical to wait for zero human transmission of the virus before lifting the lockdown.

“It may not be advisable to wait until the entire country reaches a zero level of human transmission,” he told reporters in a group message. “By then, we may have hit the tipping point where it would be extremely difficult to recover from the economic and social devastation.”

Senator Christopher T. Go in a radio interview said the president is meeting with health experts to consult on the extension or modification of the ECQ after April 30.

Experts from the University of the Philippines reported despite the ECQ appearing successful, its expansion “may not be sustainable over the long run,” and extending restrictions on movement of goods and services might “unnecessarily paralyze the economy.”

Resigned Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia last week said extending the lockdown beyond April 30 would be difficult, and should be gradually lifted instead.

In an interview with the ABS-CBN News Channel yesterday, he reiterated his proposal for selective quarantine after April 30, adding that this should be accompanied by mass testing.

Joey Concepcion, Mr. Duterte’s adviser for entrepreneurship, wants selective lockdown or village-based strategies to avoid penalizing areas that remain COVID-19-free. — Beatrice M. Laforga, Genshen L. Espedido, Vann Marlo M. Villegas and Charmaine A. Tadalan