Economic collapse feared if ECQ is reimposed
The country’s economy will not survive the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic if the National Capital Region (NCR) reverts to enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), a task force leader bared on Monday.
Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez Jr., chief implementer of the National Task Force (NTF) against
COVID-19, said Metro Manila mayors have recommended that NCR be placed under “hybrid” general community quarantine (GCQ) amid the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the past weeks.
“Sa nakikita natin, kapag ginawa natin ang ECQ sa buong NCR, buong siyudad, babagsak po ang ekonomiya. Nakita rin po natin may limitasyon po ang ECQ (As we have observed, the economy will collapse if we place the entire NCR under ECQ. The ECQ has its limitations),” Galvez said in a virtual press briefing in Malacañang.
Concerns were raised on the possibility of placing Metro Manila under a stricter community quarantine to prevent the health care facilities from being overwhelmed but Galvez said this recommendation was not included in the list submitted by the local chief executives to the InterAgency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.
Data doesn’t suggest MGCQ
In Malacañang, Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said on Monday that present data shows that Metro Manila may not downgrade to the modified GCQ (MGCQ), a statement that runs counter to the announcement made on Sunday by Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, the IATF co-chairman, who said Metro Manila might eventually downgrade to MGCQ soon.
Roque said people in the NCR should lower their expectations as case doubling rate and critical care capacity of the region do not suggest a relaxation of quarantine measures.
“Siguro po (Perhaps) at this point, the data does not indicate na pupwede magluwag po at least sa Metro Manila, para lang po to manage expectations (that Metro Manila can downgrade to MGCQ, just to manage expectations),” he added.
According to Galvez, the IATF conducted a meeting last Thursday and Friday to decide on the fate of the entire country’s community quarantine status ahead of its lapse on Wednesday, July 15.
“Napagkasunduan na may areas na mag-e-escalate considering that nakita po natin na tumataas po ‘yung ating severe at critical cases, at the same time ‘yung new cases tumataas rin po (It was decided that there are areas that will be escalated considering there is an increase in the number of severe and critical cases, and the new cases are also rising),” he said.
“Sa ngayon po, miniting din nila ang [Metro] Manila mayors and they are recommending na ma-maintain ang ano nila… na nakita natin ‘yung hospitals medyo napupuno (Right now, they also met with Metro Manila mayors and they are recommending to maintain their [status]… as we have seen that the hospitals are slowly filling up),” he said.
Stricter control, open more economic activities “Ang hinihiling nila, magkaroon ng parang stricter ang control but we can open other economic activity kaya parang tinatawag nilang hybrid (What they [Metro Manila mayors] are appealing for is to have a stricter control but we can open other economic activity that’s why it’s hybrid),” he explained.
In a hybrid community quarantine status, Galvez said the economic and private sectors shall take equal responsibilities in containing the possible spread of COVID-19 cases.
“Sabi nga ni [Finance] Secretary [Carlos] Dominguez, the economy is now on the tipping point, meaning napakahirap na po ng sitwasyon na kapag hindi natin na-recover ngayon mahihirapan na pong magkaroon ng mas malaking crisis (Like what Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez said, the economy is now in the tipping point which means that it will be difficult to contain a bigger crisis if we cannot recover now),” he said.
The Philippines has one of, if not the longest lockdowns in the world to contain the COVID-19.
While it helped in slowing down the spred of the disease as proven by medical experts, it also resulted to a massive blow to the economy with millions of jobs lost and thousands of businesses closed, according to the Department of Labor and Employment.
The government is now implementing the second phase of its so called National Action Plan (NAP), or the overall strategy to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
Under the second phase of NAP, Galvez said there is a need to rebalance the health and economic objectives to avert a potential collapse of either sector. The second phase will run from June to September 2020.
“Dahan-dahan nang binubuksan ang economy bagamat nandito ang threat ng virus. Kailangan na irecover ang ekonomiya para manumbalik ang negosyo at trabaho ng mamamayan (We are slowly opening the economy despite the threat of the virus. We need to recover the economy to bring back the businesses and jobs of the people),” he said.
President Duterte is expected to announce the new community quarantine status on Wednesday. (With a report from Argyll Geducos)