Lopez: Health protocols compliance key to recovery

Alarmed at the Philippine record for being the weakest in economic growth and recovery in southeast Asia region, Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez yesterday emphasized that compliance to health protocols is key to economic recovery, saving jobs and ensuring security of the country.

Stressing that regardless of what quarantine classification is imposed, the trade chief stressed that “compliance is key.”

Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon M. Lopez

He pointed out that as the movement of markets/consumers remained restricted, the Philippine economy in terms of GDP slumped at the bottom in ASEAN from being the second fastest growing economy before the pandemic. He warned this has dire impact on poverty and hunger that will lead to malnutrition affecting kids’ education and their learning capacity/intelligence. “This will backfire to health situation in the future,” he stressed.

At the Malacanang briefing conducted by President Spokesperson Harry Roque, Lopez could not categorically say that he was proposing for the easing of quarantine classification for the National Capital Region and Calabarzon, which accounts for the bulk of the country’s economy, but stressed that this should be based on data.

With that the trade chief pointed out that the government has been relatively successful in its strategy last year of risk avoidance with COVID cases now improving to 2,000 cases or less daily y from 4,000 cases previously. Thus, he said, the government is shifting to risk management from risk avoidance.

With that the Inter Agency Task Force has been looking at other reopening modes, not just in terms of sectors, but markets like the recent easing of age restriction from 15 to 10 years old.

Because of lack of markets, Lopez pointed out said that 20 to 30 percent of stores in malls with high traffic are closing operations and 50 percent in malls with heavy traffic because there is no market. The DTI is currently updating its data.

Lopez explained that family activities account for 30 to 50 percent of sales of business establishments. The kids are not also allowed to go out without their parents.

The easing of age restriction is still at the discretion of local government units in Metro Manila, but he said that Metro Manila mayors are also of the same mindset towards economic recovery. They just have to balance their health systems capacity. Thus, he said, the need to strictly enforce the safety measures to avoid a surge.

Metro Manila LGUs, he said, are already feeling the impact revenues fell due to poor tax collection as establishments have poor sales on weak consumption.

“Di uubra na di tayo gagalaw, (We have to move),” he urged.

The easing of age restriction is also good for the social development aspect of kids where they could with family, he said.

Easing of restriction, he said is “worth it” as shown by the numbers. This also showed that compliance is working out well and is strictly implemented.

In fact, Lopez also hinted of further reopening of other sectors. The next likely to reopen could be museums.

 Lopez said that visits of guests in museums can be managed to ensure safety and that health protocols are strictly observed.