Senators on Thursday urged State economic managers to pursue a successful recovery plan to save the Philippine economy from collapsing, now that the country has officially fallen into a technical recession during the second quarter of the year 2020.
Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said he hopes that the government would exert efforts to speed up the recovery amid a stringent COVID-19 lockdown the government imposed since March to stop the spread of the disease.
“I expected it. (It) will be hard for people to get back to work unless government can prove that it can beat the virus,” Recto said in a text message to reporters.
“So far, the people, consumers, workers, investors think government is losing the battle. There is a lack of confidence. Hopefully, we can get our act together in the next two weeks,” Recto said.
Economic managers said the Philippine economy contracted by 16.5 percent during the second quarter, or at the height of the COVID-19 lockdown that put a stop to 75 percent of businesses in the country and rendered millions of Filipinos jobless.
Apart from COVID-19, State economic leaders also blamed the technical recession to the eruption of Taal Volcano in January and the tourism revenue losses at the onset of the pandemic.
Sen. Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara, chair of the Senate committee on finance, said he is not at all surprised by this development as “all economies of the world are in recession.”
“What is important is the recovery strategy which a country pursues. Bayanihan 2 (Bayanihan to Recover as One Act) will help initially, but many are commenting it should be followed by other economic actions,” Angara said.
“We, in the Senate, have shown our willingness to work with our economic managers to pursue a successful recovery strategy. Huwag lang sana nilang payagang waldasin ng PhilHealth ang pinaghirapang pera ni Juan dela Cruz (Provided, they won’t allow PhilHealth to waste the hard-earned money of Juan dela Cruz),” he further said, referring to the corruption issues hounding the country’s health insurance agency.
Sen. Imee Marcos also said the Philippines falling into a recession “is no surprise at all,” and happened “entirely as projected.”
“But I’m still awaiting a plan for the way forward. Our biggest problem I think is our business and private sector, we are trying to resume our businesses pre-COVID-19 era. But we can’t adopt a ‘business as usual.’ We need to hear from our economic planners about a government’s shift in budget priorities,” Marcos stressed.
“Like all Filipinos, I need to see hope in the horizon…NEDA (National Economic Development Authority) should be planning for a COVID-19 economy. Which is the first stage of economic recovery,” she stressed.
“This is the essence of Roosevelt’s New Deal, which set the stage for recovery from the 1930s depression,” she further said.
Sen. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson also acknowledged the development, saying the COVID-19 pandemic has placed the government in a very precarious situation “as in a tightrope-like balancing act between the health and economic issues which presents a no win-all situation.”
“That is why it is revolting to discover so much unabated corruption in PhilHealth involving billions that could have been put into good use in adequately addressing at least the issue of health,” he lamented.
“Having said that, I would like to believe, as often expressed by the country’s economic managers, that we continue to benefit from our strong economic fundamentals which can pull us through this crisis until such time that a vaccine that has guaranteed efficacy is finally invented to address the pandemic,” Lacson stressed.