ECQ pushes 102,000 Pinoys into poverty

Published April 6, 2021, 1:51 PM

by Chino S. Leyco

The extended enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in Metro Manila and nearly provinces will push more than 100,000 additional Filipinos into poverty as these stringent lockdowns are seen take a heavier toll on the economy, jobs and household income.

Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III and Acting Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick T. Chua said the two-week ECQ in the National Capital Region Plus (NCR) bubble may drag down the economy by 0.5 percentage point to 0.8 percentage point this year.


Dominguez said the continued surge in COVID-19 cases is “certainly not good for the economy,” noting that strict containment measures in “NCR Plus” areas may shave off one half of one percent from the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).

The Duterte administration’s economic team expects the local economy will rebound by 6.5 percent to 7.5 percent this year after a record 9.5 percent contraction in 2020.

Meanwhile, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) is estimating deeper economic losses to the two-week strict quarantine in Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal.

Based on the NEDA’s estimates, the reimposition of ECQ may slash the country’s full-year economic growth by 0.8 percentage points in 2021.

The agency also said the ongoing lockdowns would result in additional 252,000 jobless individuals and 102,000 more poor Filipinos.

“On top of these, the more stringent quarantine in NCR Plus translates to a daily household income loss of P2.1 billion or almost P30 billion for the two-week period,” NEDA said in a statement.

Chua said a more intensified implementation of the prevent, detect, isolate, treat, and recover (PDITR) strategy is key for the ECQ to be more effective in reducing COVID-19 cases.

“The latest data shows that we are at a critical juncture. Our collective actions today will spell the difference between containment and further spread of the virus. ECQ alone does not reduce the spike in the COVID-19 cases… It simply buys time,” Chua said.

“We need to further intensify testing, tracing, quarantine, isolation, treatment, and vaccination,” he added. “This will help reduce the spike in COVID-19 cases given the new variants.”

But as the Duterte administration aims to accelerate the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines, Moody’s Analytics warned on Tuesday, April 6, that several Asian countries, including the Philippines, will be hit by shipment delays under the United Nations-backed COVAX initiative.

In a commentary, Eric Chiang, Moody’s Analytics associate economist said the Philippines is among nations that should seek alternative sources for inoculations as India banned the shipments of AstraZeneca vaccines to prioritize its own needs.

India is one of the world’s largest producers of coronavirus vaccines, supplying millions of doses of the AstraZeneca jab to the COVAX scheme for middle- and low-income countries. Chiang added that there are also issues on raw material shortages partly due to export bans from the United States on key components in vaccine production such as vials, glass, plastic and stoppers.

“The export curb deepens the problems facing the COVAX scheme, relied on by 64 poorer countries, and adds to previous setbacks that include production glitches and a lack of funding contribution from wealthy nations,” Chiang said.

“The shortage could leave these countries further behind in inoculations, increasing the vaccine inequity, and undermine international efforts to counter the pandemic,” he added.