Full opening of economy pushed

·2 min read

SOCIOECONOMIC Planning Secretary Karl Chua of the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) has advised President Rodrigo Duterte to place the whole country under the most relaxed modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) starting March 1, 2021.

Chua, during a presentation to Duterte on Monday evening, Feb. 15, said this is to address the rising number of Filipinos going hungry due to effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Our quarantine restrictions since March 2020 caused a total income loss of P1.04 trillion or an average of P2.8 billion income loss every day,” he said.

Chua pointed out that some sectors are not allowed to operate during GCQ, which has led to unemployment and loss of income.

“Our recommendation is we balance. In a Pulse Asia survey in September, 39 percent said, we should balance the economy and the control of the virus,” Chua said.

However, during the November 2020 survey, when the hunger rate increased, 73 percent said that there is a need to balance the opening of the economy and the control of the virus.

Chua recommended the full opening of the economy, especially in the National Capital Region (NCR), starting next month.

“The main reason is we want to mitigate and eradicate sickness, hunger, poverty, job and income loss that are arising from non-Covid cases. And if there is a need, we can use localized lockdowns and at the municipal level to address the local spread of the virus,” he said.

Duterte on Jan. 29, retained the GCQ classification of NCR and Davao City until Feb. 28. Also under GCQ are Batangas and Cordillera Administrative Region which includes Abra, Apayao, Benguet, Baguio City, Ifugao, Kalinga, and Mountain Province for Luzon; Tacloban City for the Visayas; Davao del Norte, Lanao del Sur and Iligan City for Mindanao.

Metro Manila remained the biggest contributor to the economy in 2019 with a 32.2 percent share of the national economy followed by Calabarzon at 14.6 percent, Central Luzon (11.2 percent), Central Visayas (6.5 percent), Western Visayas (4.7 percent), Davao Region (4.6 percent) and Northern Mindanao (4.5 percent).

Neda proposed for the further expansion of transportation, with proper safeguards, from 50 percent to 75 percent so more people can go to work.

To complement public transport, he said there should also be support for active transport like bike lanes for Filipinos who shifted to biking to work.

Chua said there was also a lack of inter-province buses. Many workers during the enhanced community quarantine went back to the province and are now having difficulty going back to their places of work.

He also recommended the expansion of age groups allowed to go out, with proper safeguards, and to resume the pilot testing of face-to-face schooling in low-risk areas. (JOB)