The Philippine economy can't afford a prolonged lockdown, President Rodrigo Duterte's spokesman said Tuesday, the first day of a 15-day strict quarantine aimed at slowing COVID-19 infections. Official gross domestic product data for the second quarter due out this week is expected to confirm that the country is in a recession.
The Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine was put in place as a response to pleas for a timeout from medical frontliners who said they were being overwhelmed by fast-rising cases. The country recently breached the 100,000-mark of confirmed infections.
“Tatapatin ko po kayo. Hindi na po kaya ng ekonomiya ang mas matagalang lockdown. Lalabas po ang pigura ng second quarter GDP natin, napakatindi po ng ibinaba ng ating ekonomiya (I will be honest with you. Our economy can no longer sustain another prolonged lockdown. Figures of our second-quarter GDP will come out, and the economy shrank),” Roque said.
This is why officials constantly remind the public to take care of their health, so they can go on with their work or livelihood, he said.
Strict quarantines were first implemented mid-March in order to curb the spread of COVID-19. With businesses temporarily closed and everyone stuck at home, the economy contracted for the first time since 1998. Roque said the government was trying to strike a balance between health and the economy.
“Mahirap na mahirap na po ang mangyayari sa ating ekonomiya kung magla-lockdown tayong muli. Nandoon na po sa punto na marami po ang siguro nga po mapapabagal ng husto ang COVID-19 pero kung wala naman pong hanapbuhay, eh papano naman po mabubuhay ang mga ordinaryong mamamayan? (It will be difficult for our economy if we undergo lockdown again. We get the point that it could slow down COVID-19 infections, but if people don’t have jobs, how will citizens live?),” he said.
Aside from Metro Manila, Laguna, Cavite, Rizal, and Bulacan shifted back to MECQ, under which, mass transport is suspended and residents are only allowed to go out to purchase essentials. Quarantine passes and checkpoints have also been reimposed to ensure people stay home and in their areas.
Approved industries, such as food manufacturing, delivery services, groceries, drug stores, and water and electricity services are allowed to reopen but must operate at limited capacity. Barber shops, salons, internet cafes, and cinemas are still prohibited.