ECOP calls for GCQ by Sept. 1

Published August 20, 2021, 4:52 PM

by Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat

Now that the government has moved into a modified enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) classification for the National Capital Region, the country’s growth engine, employers are looking forward to further easing into general community quarantine (GCQ) by September 1.

Sergio Ortiz-Luis Jr., president of the Employers Confederation of the Philippines

Sergio Ortiz-Luis Jr., president of the Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP), reiterated that the lockdown has done nothing good to the economy and even aggravated the hardships among Filipinos and businesses.

“By end of the month, we should already declare GCQ classification. Nothing good has come out of these lockdowns,” he stressed. He said that under MECQ personal services and restaurants are still restricted in their operations, more people are still unemployed. Others are violating protocols to survive, he pointed.

Instead of lockdowns, Ortiz-Luis urged the government to strengthen the country’s healthcare system to be able to take care of the 4 percent severe and critical COVID cases.

Employers have been critical as to how government appreciate the COVID cases data in the country. Ortiz-Luis pointed out that only 4 percent or less of total cases are critical and severe, the majority 96 percent do not need to be hospitalized.

He also pointed out that the 30,000 declared COVID deaths in one and half years in the country cannot be considered substantial enough. In fact, he said, not all those declared COVID really died of COVID, but were declared as such by hospitals.

“COVID is not a big killer, but contagious,” he stressed. He pointed out that more Filipinos died from tuberculosis and heart diseases than COVID. For instance, he said, there are 1 million active tuberculosis cases in a year and 75 Filipinos die a day from TB.

And yet, he lamented, government is spending at least P300 billion for COVID.

In addition, he suggested the government should not do a hard-sell approach on vaccination because that only creates overcrowding in vaccination centers.

“The only message government should convey is to encourage people to get vaccinated to protect themselves and their families,” he said. There is no need to issue threats that those unvaccinated cannot enter certain premises, ride a public transportation or extend incentives like allowing those vaccinated to them to enter “vaccinated only” establishments.

“Hard selling of vaccination is uncalled for and it only creates confusion and suspicion because there is not enough supply. There will be no lack of people to be vaccinated at least in the next few months. When there is enough supply, then do a hard-sell vaccination campaign,” he urged.

Meanwhile, Ortiz-Luis denied that workplaces are the cause of coronavirus transmission but disorganized public mass transportation, vaccination, ayuda distribution, and the Comelec registration.

“Companies are very strict, careful and it is easy for them to trace those positive,” he said.