Baguio’s working class worst-hit by COVID-19 pandemic

BAGUIO CITY – The Hotel and Restaurant Association of Baguio (HRAB) came knocking at the doors of city hall, practically begging for a chance to revive what was before the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) – a lucrative tourism economy.

In a position paper, HRAB detailed how Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) data reflected lodging businesses losing projected income of more than P28 million per month from April to June this year, compared to the same period in 2019. 

The numbers translate to a 75-percent income loss for the period, or a total of P84 million in three-months.     

In a meeting with city managers, medical frontliners, and local businessmen, HRAB manifested that the closure of some businesses was felt heavily by employees in lodging businesses, who lost some P80 million in projected collective income from April to June.  

Wage earners from restaurant businesses, meantime, suffered projected income of P40.9 million for the same period. This, as establishments employing them collectively failed to realize P107.5 million in monthly income or a total P322.7 million in three months.

In the transportation business, employees in provincial bus operations suffered some P89 million in lost income as their companies failed to realize an aggregate income of more than P1.2 billion in the three months.

This situation triggered a “domino effect” in other businesses involving allied micro, small, and medium enterprises, which were forced to fold up as the pandemic dragged on. Retrenchment and business closures followed.

Data from the Permits and Licensing Office (PLO) shows 53 businessmen surrendered their permits.

Humble cab and jitney drivers were likewise badly hit with their income losses projected at nearly P300 million.

The City Environment and Parks Management Office (CEPMO) bared revenue loss for bike concessionaires at P38.6 million. Boat concessionaires, on the other hand, peg losses at P3.2 million due to the three-month lockdown.

At Wright Park and Camp John Hay, there are 270-pony boys with mouths to feed. They all failed to realize a collective income of P7.5 million.

During the meeting, overheard attendees quipped, “We may die of Covid-19, but how that is not different from dying of hunger.”

Mayor Benjamin Magalong, for his part, tasked a technical working group to study the petitions of HRAB and other attendees to the meeting. 

He said, while revival of the city’s economy should be considered, the safety of Baguio residents should not also be compromised.