Government officials have said that controlling the spread of COVID-19 and reviving the economy are both important during this health crisis.
“It is clear to us that is not a binary choice,” said Department of Finance (DoF) Assistant Secretary Tony Lambino during a recent media forum hosted by the Department of Health (DoH).
“Kailangan po nating gawing pareho, kailangan po nating tulungan ang ating mga kababayan na makabalik sa kanilang mga trabaho at paghahanap-buhay (We need to do it both, we need to help our countrymen get back to their jobs and earn a living) to restart their livelihoods while protecting lives at the same time,” Lambino added.
This was also echoed by DoH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire, reiterating the importance of practicing protective behaviors — such as wearing a face mask, physical distancing, and proper hand washing, among others.
“It is essential to Filipinos to continue to have their livelihoods especially considering we do not know how long this pandemic will last,” said Vergeire.
“Our everyday actions have an impact on the spread of the virus and we have to remember that responsible decisions — no matter how small — may end up saving lives,” she added.
Vergeire said that “it’s challenging to develop new habits” but the public should understand that they need to “transition onto this new normal.”
“Adopting these behaviors will help to reinforce the national response while we will continue to figure out how to safely open up the economy,” said Vergeire.
Meanwhile, Lambino said that they are still reviewing the pandemic’s cost in the country’s economy.
“These numbers are continuously being reviewed so I believe that there were some numbers released earlier, but I think it’s best to wait for the newest estimates that will be released very soon,” said Lambino.
“That being said, we know that this pandemic — this crisis — has caused the economy. A tremendous amount of pain and when we say the economy is experiencing pain, we know that means people’s own business are feeling the pain, employees are feeling the pain,” he added.
“In terms of bouncing back, ano po ba ‘yung kailangan natin (What do we need)? On one hand, we need behaviors, we also need the policies,” Lambino furthered.
The Philippines has 54,222 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 14,037 recoveries, and 1,372 deaths as of Saturday.