Opposition Senator Leila de Lima on Friday expressed confidence that the government can strike a balance between successfully battling the COVID-19 pandemic and reviving the economy.
De Lima said she believes the country’s economy wouldn’t have slid to a technical recession had the government’s task force for COVID did its part in coming up with a comprehensive strategy against the coronavirus disease from the very start.
The senator also said there would have been no need to also impose stringent lockdowns that eventually put to a halt all trade and business activities had the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) come up with a concrete strategy to prevent the disease from spreading.
“Pinapapili tayo – kalusugan o ekonomiya (Now, we are being asked to choose—health or economy)? I think not only that that is a false choice, but that it is intentionally misleading in the context of what real leadership and effective governance, or the lack of it, can do,” De Lima said.
“Pwede naman ibalanse, di ba? Basta ba may maayos at magaling na plano at namumuno (That can be balanced, right? As long as the government has sufficient and effective plans),” the lawmaker said.
On Thursday, the Department of Health (DOH) admitted that the Philippines has now overtaken Indonesia in having the most number of COVID-19 cases in the Southeast Asian region.
The DOH said the Philippines now has a caseload of 119,460, while Indonesia has 118, 753 COVID positive cases.
Against this backdrop, state economic managers warned that the Philippines has officially entered into a technical recession as its economic growth declined by at least 16.5 percent, due to the pandemic.
“If only there was or is a real, comprehensive health-centered strategy, repeated and prolonged lockdowns would have been avoided and our economy would not have taken such a beating,” De Lima said.
“And where is the President now, who is supposedly the over-all, and ideally, the only anti-pandemic Czar on top of the whole situation, 24/7?” De Lima, a strong critic of the Duterte administration, asked.