MANILA - The acting secretary of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) is pushing for the further reopening of the Philippine economy to mitigate the increasing hunger and job losses in the country.
Acting Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Chua said he hopes President Rodrigo Duterte approves putting the whole Philippines under modified general community quarantine starting March 21, or more than a year since the country was first placed under lockdown because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Kailangan po natin mag-shift sana sa lalong madaling panahon to MGCQ for the entire Philippines, sana starting March 1, 2021 para i-address po 'yung hunger or yung mataas na antas ng mga Filipino po na nagugutom," he said during Cabinet's weekly briefing with President Rodrigo Duterte.
(We have to shift to MGCQ as soon as possible, hopefully starting March 21, 2021 in order to address the hunger in the country.)
According to Chua, the country's total income lost since the start of the lockdown last March 2020 has reached P1.04 trillion, or an average of P2.8 billion every day.
"We further open the economy to MGCQ for the entire Philippines, especially NCR, starting March 21. Gusto na po nating ma-mitigate or mabawasan 'yung sickness, hunger, job and income loss that are arising from non-COVID cases," he said.
(We further open the economy to MGCQ for the entire Philippines, especially NCR, starting March 21. We want to mitigate sickness, hunger, job and income loss that are arising from non-COVID cases.)
He also said that local government units can implement localized lockdowns instead to control the spread of the coronavirus in their respective areas.
"At kung kailangan, gumamit po tayo ng localized lockdowns sa barangay or municipal level to address the spread of the virus," Chua said.
(And if needed, we can implement localized lockdowns in the barangay or municipal level to address the spread of the virus.)
Chua, likewise, proposed to further increase the capacity of public transportation from 50 percent to 75 percent, as well as to complement this with opening of more bike lanes.
"We propose, with proper safeguards, i-further expand po natin ang public transport from 50 percent towards 75 percent para mas marami po 'yung makabalik sa kanilang trabaho," he said.
(We propose, with proper safeguards, to further expand public transport from 50 percent towards 75 percent so more people can go back to work.)
Aside from expanding the capacity of public transportation, Chua also proposed to gradually allow people between the ages of 5 to 7 years old to be allowed to go out of their houses.
The OCTA Research Group earlier said it is unlikely for Metro Manila to shift to MGCQ by March.
The shift to MGCQ, the lowest of 4 quarantine levels, will depend on the country's vaccine rollout, said OCTA Research fellow professor Guido David.
As of Monday, the Philippines has a total of 550,860 COVID-19 cases. This includes 11,517 fatalities, 511,755 recoveries and 27,588 active cases.