Employers have expressed relief following the decision of the government Sunday to relax a bit or the 2-week enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in the National Capital Region (NCR) and neighboring provinces even as they urged the government never to implement the ECQ again unless it is the last resort.
Sergio Ortiz-Luis Jr., president of the Employers Confederation of the Philippines, said the modified ECQ (MECQ) may not be the best but at least more establishments can now operate albeit still limited capacity.
“Now might not be the best but this is better than ECQ. It is still a hard climb but this is a positive move,” he said.
As the economy starts to reopen, Ortiz-Luis urged the government to tighten the implementation of all the health and safety protocols.
“Reopening a bit is less expensive than a lockdown,” he said citing loss of confidence as shown by the falling stock market shares.
He urged government never to return to ECQ, but only as a last resort.
“If can be avoided, we should not go back to lockdown it should be a last resort,” he added.
He cited reports of a growing number of mentally disturbed Filipinos because of the difficulties due to the pandemic and prolonged lockdown.
On Saturday, April 11, ECOP urged the Duterte administration to look for other measures to balance life and economy stressing that continued lockdown is eroding confidence not just among businessmen but to ordinary Filipinos, as well.
Edgardo G. Lacson, chairman of the Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP), said extending the ECQ for another week will further plunge the economy to an unprecedented depth where hope of recovery will be nearly impossible.
“It could result in untold hunger, increased joblessness, permanent loss of opportunities, despair, and discourage new investments. A collective feeling of doom might become pervasive and bring the country to an economic standstill if not taking a giant leap backward,” warned Lacson.
Lacson said this as President Duterte is expected to decide today whether or not to extend further the two-week NCR Plus bubble.
Ortiz-Luis also said “Further extension of this lockdown could resort in chaos and the economy to go deeper, making it very hard to recover. Even confidence among us is down.”
“Confidence is eroding, so we have to try other means to contain the infection and to live with the COVID, not continue lockdown.”
Ortiz-Luis said there is no need even to conduct a survey among members to determine how many workers lost their jobs anew in the past two weeks because most of the businesses are closed.
“There is no need for surveys because really most of the micro, small and medium enterprises had closed shops already. More people are getting hungry and we don’t have money for ayuda,” he said.
Instead of continued lockdown, ECOP would like the government to impose other measures like strict implementation of health and safety protocols like wearing of masks, face shields and physical distancing.
“Lockdown is not a solution but a last resort,” he said noting the country has been on a lockdown for more than a year already.
He also reiterated his suggestion to suspend the Privacy Law just for COVID to easily identify the positives instead of spending billions of government resources for contact tracing.
Instead, he suggested to use the amount to pay hospitals to encourage them to open more rooms for patients, and give incentives to medical frontliners.
He also called for proper testing as he noted of the many false negatives that only boosted the country’s COVID cases data.
In addition, ECOP would like the Department of Health to get their acts together because people are getting mixed signals due to conflicting policies.
Ortiz-Luis further noted that while President already ordered to allow the private sector to import vaccines and allow ivermectin, a drug still under investigation for COVID treatment, his orders are not actually followed.
“The people have very low confidence because of the DOH. It seems they have no sense of urgency,” he added.