Despite the recent spike in coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in the country, President Duterte is insisting on fully reopening the economy, saying the country cannot stay under strict protocols because people are already getting hungry.
Duterte made the statement as the government continues with its vaccination program against COVID-19 amid the spread of more contagious variants of the coronavirus 2019.
In his speech during the inauguration of the newly constructed Port Operations Building (POB) at the Port of Dumaguete in Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental on Thursday, March 11, the President stressed the importance of following the health protocols set by the government and the World Health Organization (WHO).
He recognized that the threat of COVID-19 was still present but said he cannot stay the reopening of the economy any longer.
“We have yet to fully implement our national vaccination program. Prior to this, increased mobility must be done with utmost caution and responsibility,” he said.
“Now this is the devil and the deep blue sea, but I have to reopen the economy,” he added.
The President hinted that he wants the reopening of the economy to take place in a matter of weeks.
He said he wants a faster rollout of the vaccination program for the reopening of the economy to happen.
“I’ve given a timetable of just weeks. We cannot forever be in the strict protocols because we have to open the economy,” Duterte said.
“People are hungry, people have to work, to eat to survive. So hindi ko malaman kung saan ako pupunta (I don’t know what I should do) but I said the economy must be opened in a short while. Kaya paspasan yang bakuna tutal umabot na (That’s why we are hurrying up with the vaccination. After all, we have vaccines now),” he added.
In his speech during the arrival of the first batch of CoronaVac shots donated by the Chinese government, President Duterte said that he will order the total reopening of the economy if he sees that the country has already acquired 20 million to 40 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines.