OK to open the economy as long as health protocols are observed — Galvez

Published August 30, 2020, 6:16 PM

by Martin Sadongdong

It is safe to ease the community quarantine restrictions to allow more economic activities as long as the COVID-19 safety protocols are followed and the number of deaths remains at a manageable level.

National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19 chief implementer Carlito Galvez Jr. stated this Sunday ahead of President Duterte’s announcement of the new classification of community quarantine status in the country.

Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez Jr.

“For as long as we maintain the minimum health standards, at the same time maintain the rate of death into the minimum, kung mababa po ang rate of death natin ay puwede po tayong mag-open ng economy (if our rate of death remains at the minimum then we can open the economy),” he said.

In order to keep the situation under control, Galvez said the government is training the public to inculcate in their daily lives the most basic of health protocols to keep them safe and protected.

He said the “popular support and popular obedience” of the public to the rules being set by the authorities is important in the country’s fight against COVID-19.

“Napakaimportante po ang popular support at saka iyong popular obedience. Nakita po natin na iyong mga successful na mga different countries, nakita natin iyong kanilang mga mamamayan ay sumusunod (Popular support and popular obedience is very important. We saw that the countries with successful campaigns have obedient citizens),” he said.

Galvez used the Pareto doctrine in stressing the need to balance public health and the economy, which is the focus of the second phase of the National Action Plan (NAP), the government’s overall response strategy to the pandemic.

“Using the Pareto doctrine, kailangan po more than 80 percent of our efforts should concentrate on really treating the people’s behavior towards the pandemic. Kasi nakita po natin ito, tatagal pa po itong pandemic na ito at kailangan ang ano po natin dito iyong people’s cooperation is very necessary (Because we saw that this pandemic will last for a while and the people’s cooperation is very necessary),” he explained.

The Pareto doctrine describes a situation where no part can be better without the other part being worse. It states that roughly 80 percent of the effects of most events come from 20 percent of the causes. 

“Ang ginagawa po natin dito is iyong pagba-balance natin ng health at saka po iyong economy, binigyan din po natin ng tuon ang responsibilidad ng ating mga mamamayan (We are now balancing the health and economy, and we also emphasize the responsibility of the citizens),” he said.

For the economy to successfully open, Galvez said the minimum health standard should be religiously followed — wearing of face mask and face shield, and practicing social distancing.

Galvez did not divulge what will be the status of Metro Manila and other regions ahead of Duterte’s announcement on Monday.

However, Galvez reiterated that the country can no longer afford to go back to enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) and modified ECQ (MECQ), the strictest forms of lockdown, since they are “not sustainable.”

“Ibig sabihin, malaki po ang collateral damage  in terms of livelihood and economy (That means there is a big collateral damage in terms of livelihood and the economy),” he said.

The chief implementer then suggested the practice of localized lockdowns in a particular barangay, street, or establishment where community transmission of the virus is detected.

That way, he said the local government units can control the contagion and keep the economic activities running.

He also reminded LGUs to strengthen the contact tracing efforts, and increase their testing capacity and isolation facilities.

Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, Rizal, Nueva Ecija, Batangas, Quezon, Iloilo City, Cebu City, Lapu-Lapu City, Mandaue City, Talisay City, Consolacion and Minglanilla in Cebu are under general community quarantine (GCQ).

The rest of the country is placed under the modified general community quarantine (MGCQ), the most relaxed level of lockdown.

The current community quarantine status in the country will expire on August 31.