‘Filipinos must learn to live with COVID-19 to revive economy, boost jobs’ — Roque

Published October 19, 2020, 3:47 PM

by Genalyn Kabiling

The nation cannot just hide from the coronavirus in a cave and instead must learn to live with it amid government efforts to gradually relax movement restrictions and revive the economy, Malacañang said Monday.

In this photo taken on September 8, 2020, passengers wearing face shields have their temperature taken before boarding a bus in Manila.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque defended the government’s decision to further open up the local economy, saying this was needed to jumpstart business activities and livelihood of the people.

Roque made the remarks after latest survey results showed majority of Filipinos deemed adequate the government’s efforts to address the coronavirus but found some inadequacy in helping the unemployed.

“Ito ang dahilan kung bakit binubuksan ang ekonomiya dahil naniniwala tayo na kailangan matutuo ang mga Pilipino na mabuhay bagama’t nariyan ang COVID 19. Hindi pupuwedeng magtago tayo sa kweba habang may COVID-19 tulad ng gusto ng ilan (This is the reason why we are opening up the economy because we believe that Filipinos must learn to live despite the presence of COVID-19. We cannot hide in a cave while there is COVID-19 like what some people want),” Roque said during a televised press briefing.

“Ito rin ang dahilan kung bakit natin binubuksan ang sektor ng transportasyon dahil siyempre kung sarado pa rin ang transportasyon, talagang hindi makakapasok pa rin sa trabaho ang mga mayroong trabaho (This is also the reason why we are further opening the transportation sector because if transportation is closed, people cannot go to places of work),” he said.

Several months into the coronavirus pandemic, Roque said the government already knows the enemy and how to curb the spread of the illness.

He said the government is dealing with the pandemic by enhancing the country’s health care resources, including health workers, protective gear and hospital bed capacity. He said they have also aggressively promoted the campaign to observe health protocols such as wearing of mask, frequent washing of hands, and observance of safe physical distancing, to avoid the infection.

In the SWS survey conducted last month, at least 46 percent of the respondents found the government’s assistance to those who lost their jobs during the pandemic as inadequate. Only 44 percent believed government actions are adequate while nine percent were undecided.

The same survey showed 71 per cent considered the government’s action to inform the public on how to fight the illness was adequate. Around 61 percent found adequate the government’s effort to conduct extensive contact tracing was adequate while 54 percent were content with government’s action on ensuring affordable COVID-19 testing nationwide.

Reacting to the survey results, Roque thanked the public for its appreciation of the government’s pandemic response.

“Nagpapasalamat kami sa inyo at ang IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Infectious Diseases) nagpapasalamat din po. Ito ay isang pagkikilala na mabigyan kayo ng tama at napapanahon na impormasyon sa coronavirus (We thank you, the IATF thanks you too. This is a recognition of giving you the right and timely information about the coronavirus),” he said.

On contact tracing, he said the Department of Interior and Local Government reports the country has so far 35,345 contact tracers as of Oct 16. At least 15,000 more contact tracers will be hired to meet the target the 50,000.