Let’s get in touch.
We’d love to hear from you.
The ongoing health crisis, if not properly addressed, may lead to an even bigger economic crisis. If the infection is not put under control, there is a big possibility that we will revert to a much stricter lockdown. That’s the biggest concern of not just the business sector, but also the government as well.
Reverting to lockdowns will further hamper businesses attempting to restart and people trying to rebuild. The private sector – through the efforts of Task Force T3 (Test, Trace and Treat) and Go Negosyo Project ARK – has supported the government on its multi-sectoral response to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and prevent another prolonged lockdown.
I have been consistent since day one of the lockdown. We need to move towards a selective and more localized quarantine approach instead of locking down entire cities or regions which have an increasing number of confirmed cases. This has been the private sector’s position which I had previously presented to the President.
Last July 28, select mayors, business chambers, and conglomerates, as well as our government’s anti-COVID czars, convened in a private meeting to discuss the country’s COVID-19 situation and discuss the steps to move forward.
The consultative meeting was attended by more than 100 individuals from both the public and private sectors. Among the attendees were presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, Sec. Carlos Dominguez III, Sec. Vince Dizon, Deputy Chief Implementer of the National Policy Against COVID-19 Sec. Carlito Galvez, Jr., Chief Implementer of National Policy Against COVID-19 Sec. Eduardo Año, Vice-Chair of the National Task Force (NTF) Sec. Delfin Lorenzana, Chair of the NTF, ARK PCR Private Sector Chief Implementor Janette Garin, Sec. Silvestre Bello III, and Mayors Menchie Abalos (Mandaluyong), Imelda Calixto-Rubiano (Pasay), Vico Sotto (Pasig), Joy Belmonte (Quezon City), Abby Binay (Makati), Lino Cayetano (Taguig), and Benjamin Magalong (Baguio). Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala of Ayala Corp., Manny Pangilinan of the MVP Group of Companies, and Ricky Razon of ICTSI were also present.
We unanimously agreed that a more surgical and localized approach should be done with regards to lockdowns. This means focusing on barangays or local clusters with high infection rates, while allowing the rest of the area to operate normally. We consider this the most effective, viable, and sustainable strategy. Through this approach, economic activity may continue and businesses may resume operations, especially those of MSMEs which have been challenged by the pandemic. Even Sec. Galvez believes that we cannot afford to go back to ECQ in Metro Manila. “We will try to implement a more granular approach when it comes to addressing the hotspots of infection,” he said.
In doing so, we may be able to achieve the balance between buhay and kabuhayan. If implemented successfully, maintaining GCQ status and imposing selective barangay quarantine will help restore public confidence and revive the economy.
In addition, with proper testing and containment of the virus at the barangay level, key industries can resume operations and essential workforce can return safely to work. We all agree, the barangay quarantine approach can be used as needed until a cure is found.
Sec. Lorenzana also supported Rep. Garin’s statement of learning to coexist with the virus and using this as the basis of our strategy moving forward. Moreover, Sec. Año explained that one of the more pressing issue is the fear people have when going to isolation centers. He appealed to the private sector to consider setting up dedicated quarantine facilities for their employees.
According to Rep. Joey Salceda, the idea of a “trade-off” between protecting the health and protecting the economy is not the main issue. “As a consumption-driven economy, economic activity is determined by confidence, and the main driver of confidence in this pandemic is certainty about health outcomes. The more confident people are that they will not get infected (or at least, be taken care of if they do get sick), the greater the overall market confidence will be. That’s why the work of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on Emerging Infectious Diseases coincides with the work of the economic managers,” he said.
Reviving the economy hinges on maintaining Metro Manila’s GCQ status. The cost to the economy is already enormous, with over seven million Filipinos jobless in April.
We cannot risk another lockdown. We have no choice but to manage the infection and prevent it from getting worse. We must strive and take all measures to safely open the economy. And to do this, we must create visibility and test millions of people – both the asymptomatic and the symptomatic. Testing, tracing, and isolating the sick are key.
The combination of a localized lockdown approach and extensive testing is needed to safely reopen the economy, laying the groundwork for eventual national economic recovery.