Compromise – one step back for Metro Manila

Published August 4, 2020, 10:12 PM

by Manila Bulletin

On one hand, we have the fact that the coronavirus is still very much around. As of July 31, the Department of Health and the World Health Organization said the Philippines had 93,354 cases and 2,023 deaths. The Philippines now has the most cases in the Western Pacific region — more than China’s 87,245, Singapore’s 51,531, Japan’s 33,049, Australia’s 15,582, South Korea’s 14,269, and Malaysia’s 8,956.

 Most of our cases are in Metro Manila and Region IV – Batangas, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal – along with Lapu-Lapu City, Mandaue City, Talisay City, Zamboanga City, and the towns of Minglanilla and Consolacion in Cebu. Within Metro Manila and Region IV, there are baran gays where strictest localized lockdowns are being enforced, because they have 80 percent of the cases

But Metro Manila and Region IV also account for 67 percent of the national economy. The lockdowns and other quarantine restrictions have severely harmed the economy, especially the consumer sector, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said. The economy sank to its lowest in April and May, he said, but is now slowly recovering with the easing of government restrictions.

Last July 22, the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) warned that after almost five months of restrictions, many businesses were in danger of closure. The next day, the Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) said 52.66 percent of the nation’s micro, small, and medium enterprises have closed down either permanently and partially.

Last weekend, representatives of the Philippine Medical Association, the Philippine Nurses Association, and the Philippine Association of Medical Technologists met with government officials and asked for a “time-out”  –  a return to the original Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ). Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said he can understand that the health professionals are weary, but millions of people need to go back to work or else they will die of hunger.

President Duterte decided for a compromise – one step back for Metro Manila to “Modified ECQ” (MECQ) instead of two steps back to the original stringent ECQ as the health workers recommended. The M ECQ will be in force for 15 days, after which the government officials concerned will make another appraisal of the situation.

 We are confident that they will carry on with the utmost concern for what is best for the nation – for the medical frontliners, for people who need to work, and for the nation as a whole .