Duterte warns of 'irreversible' economic damage if more lockdowns are declared

The local economy may suffer irreversible damage if another strict lockdown is declared amid the coronavirus pandemic, President Duterte admitted Monday.

President Rodrigo Duterte delivers his sixth State of the Nation Address (SONA) before a joint session of Congress on July 26, 2021. (Malacañang)

In his final State of the Nation Address (SONA), the President cautioned about the adverse impact of lockdowns as he pressed for sustained pandemic response and accelerated vaccination to thwart the virus spread in the coming months.

"We spent enormous amounts of resources to build our capacities to overcome this pandemic. We cannot afford more lockdowns lest our economy bleeds to the point of irreversible damage," he said.

The President dropped hints though that he might be compelled to be "strict" with movement controls to quell any spike of the more contagious Delta coronavirus variant.

He added that the government task force in charge of addressing the pandemic must already prepare the “clear, precise and uniform” protocols and guidelines in anticipation of vaccination of all Filipinos and the steady reopening of the economy.

He maintained that vaccination of Filipinos remained the “best solution” to quell the virus spread as he encouraged more people to get inoculated.

“We cannot continue living in the shadow of this potent enemy especially now that science and medicine have proven that it is possible to live if not entirely defeat this virus. The health and safety protocols we put in place have proven effective in slowing down the spread of virus but the best solution is still vaccination,” he said.

The country has so far recorded more than 1.55 million cases of coronavirus since the pandemic started last year. Several parts of the country remained under stricter community quarantine classification to curb the local virus transmission especially the Delta coronavirus variant.

Apart from claiming lives, the outbreak has already weakened the economy and left many people unemployed and hungry. The Duterte administration has committed to step up efforts to mitigate the debilitating impact of the pandemic on the economy and public health in the coming months.

In his speech, Duterte admitted that the country emerged as “one of the fastest-growing economies in Asia” until the pandemic happened last year.

Even as the government is committed to ramp up efforts to contain the spread of the virus, Duterte also recognized the need for prayers to overcome the health emergency. He said there was “no way of telling when the virus would disappear” from earth.

“I don’t know what’s the plan of God. It is something that which hit us right in the heart,” he said.

“We can only pray to God to look into our direction and decide on what will happen to this planet he created,” he added.