The Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) has urged government for a change in strategy to more effective responses in containing the pandemic instead of the existing quarantine protocols, which they said only brought the country into an “economic blackhole”.
PCCI Acting President Edgardo G. Lacson issued this call in his opening speech at the 29TH Metro Manila Business Conference.
“We need to take a serious second look at the protocols we have employed to contain this pandemic. We need to change our mindset and our ineffective responses. Lockdown, whether region-wide or granular is not a solution, it is a problem. It has plunged all economies to an unprecedented level, with some like the Philippines being pushed at the edge of an economic blackhole,” said Lacson.
The businessman has reiterated that Covid 19 is a pharmaceutical problem which the government is trying to solve with a militaristic solution like lockdown.
Businessmen are looking forward to the official declaration that the National Capital Region will be under general community quarantine where establishments are allowed to fully operate whether people are vaccinated or not subject to the strict observance of prescribed health protocols.
The PCCI, the voice of business, has long been opposed to any form of lockdown, even the planned granular lockdown, stressing that “any form of lockdown is disruptive to business” whether region-wide or granular.
“It is a tacit admission by authorities that they will henceforth abandon the intermittent and harmful regional lockdown protocol. Yet, it must be recognized by authorities that a lockdown, whether region wide or granular, remains disruptive and a disincentive to business operations,” Lacson said.
However, Lacson was also quick to say that there is also positive implication in the implementation of the granular lockdown which would remove the discrimination between essentials and non-essential business as both will now be allowed to operate under certain relaxed health guidelines.
He said that PCCI wishes for the full opening of the economy even if the herd immunity threshold is unmet due to the moving and elusive target of 50 -100 percent inoculation of the population. “Many health experts claim it is impossible to achieve herd immunity as the virus keeps mutating and the vaccine is always behind the curve,” he said, adding that “the COVID-19 virus and its variants will be here forever but it can be contained by simply observing prescribed health protocols of masking, handwashing, and social distancing.”
Furthermore, he underscored the importance of massive and continuing vaccination, tracing and testing and fast track the development of alternative and cheap medicines against COVID-19.
“We must remove our overblown fear of this virus and the even greater fear of another lockdown,” he said.