Biz groups welcome Cimatu's entry in Cebu's Covid-19 battle

BUSINESS leaders in Cebu have welcomed the appointment of Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu as the Covid-19 Visayas Overseer, hoping that his involvement will help Cebu transition to a general community quarantine status (GCQ).

“With Secretary Roy Cimatu’s presence here, this is the first step in helping to solve the situation we are facing, especially in the red zones. Businesses are concerned since this is a big challenge that we have to face all over again,” said Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Felix Taguiam.

Taguiam said they are waiting for new announcements on border control for the seamless flow of goods, services and essential workers.

Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Steven Yu said Cimatu’s appointment has the vote of confidence, especially of the business community.

“Our business community is elated by the support extended by the National Government through the request of Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas. It means that we are getting ‘helping hands’ when we are firefighting in so many fronts. It also shows the seriousness of the government’s resolve to win this war against Covid-19,” he said.

Yu said while it may initially cause some inconveniences to some businesses, it will be short-lived, and will all be worth the sacrifices.

Cebu City was the only city in the country that was reverted to enhanced community quarantine status after its 15-day short-lived GCQ status from June 1 to 15 due to the rising Covid-19 cases.

“We have seen the initial consequences of having our Covid critical care capacity used up,” said Yu.

He explained that while all the hospitals are ramping up additional capacity, manpower availability is also an issue.

“While we address this, it is best that we are getting additional support from the National Government,” he said.

Yu believes that the global investor community will give a positive outlook or rating to communities that are serious and up-to-par in their fight against Covid-19.

“It’s a global pandemic and some countries are experiencing a second wave. I believe that our efforts and plans are going into the right direction,” he said.

As Cebu has been badly hit by the pandemic, business owners hoped they could recover to keep the economy moving.

GCQ appeal

On June 19, the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Cebu Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce, Cebu IT-BPM Organization, Philippine Retailers Association-Cebu Chapter, Confederation of Philippine Exporters Foundation Inc. Cebu, Cebu Furniture Industries Foundation Inc., Cebu Business Club and Cebu Leads Foundation Inc., appealed on the reclassification of Cebu City from ECQ to GCQ.

“In Cebu and just like the rest of the country, the ECQ had taken a toll on small and large businesses, resulting in heavy losses, closure of non-essential business activities, and loss of jobs for thousands of people. While we very much understand and agree that public health comes first during this pandemic, we have come to a point where the need to balance public health with the health of the economy can no longer be delayed,” the group said in a joint statement.

After being placed on GCQ status from June 1 to 15, the group noted that Cebu businesses had started navigating the financial and operational challenges of the pandemic, while rapidly addressing the needs of their people, customers and suppliers.

“We had already seen improvement as we slowly ramped up 50 percent to 60 percent of business activities while complying with the new normal health standards. Just when businesses had already gained momentum in reopening, Cebu City’s return to ECQ has again dampened business confidence,” the group said.

“The ECQ status is at great disadvantage to the business community and the working sector, as it will create a more exasperating disruption to our economy, which might wreak havoc on people’s enterprises and livelihood, and result in more suffering and hunger,” it added. (JOB, KOC)