Andanar sees the positive side in GDP contraction and COVID-19 response

Published August 6, 2020, 6:20 PM

by Genalyn Kabiling

The strict coronavirus lockdown took a heavy toll on the economy but it saved thousands of lives and prevented the collapse of the country’s healthcare system, according to Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar.

Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar (PCOO / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

Andanar chose to highlight the benefits of the stringent quarantine measure on promoting public health after the economy contracted by 16.5 percent during the second quarter of the year.

The country has reportedly entered into technical recession following the steep economic decline during the height of the strict lockdown that crippled businesses and displaced workers. 

Andanar however pointed out that the economic team “expected” the country’s economic contraction, and has already mapped out a recovery program. 

“Although our lockdown and community quarantine implementation had an impact on our economic performance, it served as a cushion to our society’s general health, protection, and well-being against COVID-19,” he said.

“Furthermore, it served as a safety net to suppress the collapse of our healthcare system and assist our frontline healthcare workers, who have been tirelessly responding to the pandemic since it began,” he said.

As a result of the lockdown measures, Andanar trumpeted that the government prevented around 1.3 to 3.5 million cases that could have overwhelmed the healthcare system.  “More importantly, some 59,000 to 171,000 lives were saved,” he said.

Despite the grim economic figures, Andanar claimed that the country remained “in much stronger economic position” to address the coronavirus emergency.

“Apart from strong economic foundations established by the successful enactment of economic, social, and institutional reforms, we continue to capitalize on, and to reform our socio-economic advantages so that we can weather any potential, foreseen, and unforeseen crisis, such as the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.

As part of efforts to revive the economy, Andanar said the government has prepared the Philippine Program for Recovery with Equity and Solidarity to aid the sectors severely affected by the pandemic. The proposed 2021 national budget has also been recalibrated while the government has resumed Build, Build, Build projects to recuperate.

He also echoed President Duterte’s appeal to Congress to pass the proposed Bayanihan II law “to intensify our assistance not only to our economic sector, but also to every Filipino against COVID-19.”

“With the continuous projections, researches, and studies being conducted by our economic managers for us to recover, we will continue to strike a balance between supporting our economy while ensuring everyone’s protection, especially that of our healthcare workers, as we firmly believe that we will heal and rise again,” he said.

From the most stringent enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) implemented back in mid-March, the government has gradually relaxed the lockdown measures, allowing more businesses to operate to revive the economy.

 Metro Manila and four nearby provinces however recently reverted to modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) after the country’s health workers pleaded for a timeout from the rapid surge of infections.

More than 119,00 people have been infected while 2,150 died from the illness since the coronavirus outbreak in the country early this year.