Vice President Leni Robredo sees the government’s suspension of public transport at the height of the longest and most stringent lockdown in Metro Manila as the reason why the Philippine economy is in recession.
The country registered a record 16.5 percent gross domestic product (GDP) contraction during April to June this year.
Many businesses had to stop operating since March when the government declared a lockdown to stem the spread of the coronavirus disease.
“Iyong negative 16.5 percent grabe iyan…Parang ang epekto noong pagkawala ng public transport, parang nasa 52 percent? Napakalaki noon (The negative 16.5 percent is bad…The effect of the public transport ban on the economy was about 52 percent? That is big),” she said over dzXL.
Robredo said she was saddened by the news that the Philippines is the hardest hit economy among the Association of Southeast Asian Nation countries.
“Marami ang malungkot sa mga ganitong balita kasi gustong sabihin, mas maraming maghihirap. So sana, mapatama na iyong pag-deal with this (Many feel sad on this kind of news because it means more people will suffer. So I hope we will correct ways on how to deal with this),” she said.
The opposition leader said the economic contraction could have been eased if operations of public transport had been allowed.
“Ito iyong parati nating sinasabi na sana noong nag-GCQ (general community quarantine) tayo, puwede na sana iyong public transport doon. Ayusin na lang, siguraduhin na mayroong social distancing (This is what I have been saying during the GCQ, we could have allowed public transport. Just fix it, make sure there is social distancing),” she said.
During the stricter quarantine period, all public transport had been suspended and travel was restricted to essential work and needs.
The Vice President noted the government is still slow in its response to contain the outbreak despite its efforts to address the current flaws in the strategies.
“May mga ginawa na ang hinahanap nating from the very start na plano, pero mabagal talaga. Pero ito pinakinggan na iyong ating health frontliners, so ako hopeful na may mangyayari na (They have already worked on the plan that we have been asking from the very start, but it is slow. They have listened to our health workers, so I’m hopeful something good is going to happen),” she said.