Philippine economy could take P1.16-trillion hit from COVID-19 work stoppage: Salceda

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 22 2020 12:58 PM

Salceda: PH economy can still grow despite Luzon lockdown

A priest in Sta. Cruz Manila, negotiates with police to allow his relief center to receive beggars and the homeless for their feeding and care program on March 21, 2020, Saturday. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA -- Work stoppage in the Philippines most populous island group due to the coronavirus pandemic could result in P1.157 trillion in economic losses, an economist-turned lawmaker said Sunday.

Uncertainty stalks workers who get no pay if they don't report for work, said Albay Rep. Joey Salceda. Gross domestic product growth could slow to 3 percent, he said. The economy grew 5.9 percent in 2019 and was tipped to expand by at least 6 percent this year.

“Sa pananaw ko po, kaya pa po ng Pilipinas na mag-grow faster than the other countries in the world (In my view, the Philippines can grow faster than other countries in the world),” Salceda told a televised press briefing.

“Yung virus, pwede mo lang patayin kung ang ekonomiya ay patitigilin mo. Kaya solusyon talaga po, dahil ang virus na ito ay nagta-thrive thru economic activity, so kailangan po natin talaga pigilin muna ang pagtakbo ng ating ekonomiya so work stoppage, class suspension,” Salceda said.

(You can only kill the virus if you put a pause on economic activity. So the solution is to pause economic activity through work stoppage, and class suspension.)

Luzon is on lockdown until April 12, which means strict home confinement in all households, suspension of transportation lines, regulation of provision for food and essential health services, and heightened presence of uniformed personnel to enforce isolation procedures.

To cushion the impact of the economic slowdown due to COVID-19, the government earlier rolled out a P27.1-billion package, which also includes provisions for the Department of Health.

President Rodrigo Duterte also declared a state of public health emergency and a state of calamity to allow government to tap quick response funds.

If the President did not declare a lockdown of Luzon, the Philippines might suffer from a recession, Salceda said.

“Baka po magkaroon ng recession kung hindi natin ginawa ang lockdown, baka tsaka tayo nagka-recession,” he added.

(There could be a recession if we did not declare a lockdown.)

Lawmakers are set to discuss on Monday Duterte’s request for emergency funds for the government's COVID-19 response.