Robredo tells gov’t: Retrofit policies for COVID-19 response

Published June 20, 2021, 12:11 PM

by Raymund Antonio

The government must review existing policies and “retrofit” them according to the “present context” to help businesses survive the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic, Vice President Leni Robredo said on Sunday, June 20.

Vice President Leni Robredo (FEDERICO CRUZ / MANILA BULLETIN)

In her weekly radio show, the country’s second-highest official noted that many of the existing policies in the country are still “pre-pandemic.”

“So, sa akin, hindi pwede iyong one-size-fits-all. Karamihan kailangan ng shift sa ibang existing policies. Kasi marami tayong policies na pre-pandemic pa. Hindi pa sinaalang-alang kung ano iyong mga sitwasyon ngayon (So, for me, it cannot be a one-size-fits-all. Many of the existing policies need to shift. Because we have many pre-pandemic policies. They have yet to take into account the situation right now),” she said.

The vice president called for a “review” of these policies, adding that they should consider the context of being in a pandemic.

“Hindi pwede ang konteksto niya pre-pandemic pa kasi iba’t iba talaga iyong nangyari (The policies cannot have a pre-pandemic context because things are really different),” she noted.

Robredo cited as an example the new regulation by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) to impose higher taxes on private schools—from 10 percent to 25 percent.

READ: Palace supports BIR tax hike on private schools

But she said this is ill-timed as private schools are one of the most hardest hit by the pandemic.

Robredo also noted that restaurants and rental spaces near school areas have been heavily impacted by the pandemic.

“So, ito dapat sana matingnan, ma-retrofit iyong mga policies sa present context natin (So, we need to look into these, retrofit the policies to our present context),” she said.

The lady official highlighted “many opportunities” to help the people, who have lost their jobs because of the pandemic. In particular, she placed special consideration on what small businesses are going through.

“Kailangan talaga kung nasaan iyong problema, doon ka papasok. Maraming nangangailangan pero maraming opportunities para tumulong. Iyon ang kailangan lang talaga matutukan ano bang klaseng tulong ang kailangan (We need to intervene where the problem is. A lot needs help but there are many opportunities to help. That’s what we should focus on what kind of help is needed),” she said.

As the country grapples with an unemployment rate of 8.7 percent because of the pandemic, according to the Labor Force Survey by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), Robredo cited the programs that her office has put in place to help close the gap.

READ: Jobless rate jumps amid strict quarantine

In particular, she mentioned the Office of the Vice President’s (OVP) programs—the Bayanihanapbuhay, a portmanteau of Filipino words “bayanihan (community spirit)” and “hanapbuhay (livelihood),” and the entrepreneurship program for the youth.

The OVP had also launched the job matching platform Sikap.PH and, where small business owners can promote their products in the online market.