NEDA bats for localized measures to protect lives while saving jobs


Posted at Mar 22 2021 04:31 PM

NEDA bats for localized measures to protect lives while saving jobs 1
People pass by a lockdown marker put in place to curb the spread of COVID-19 at a barangay in Paco, Manila on March 18, 2021. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA - The National Economic and Development Authority said Monday it supports localized quarantines and increased restrictions instead of a "blanket" lockdown.

NEDA said this helps curb the spread of COVID-19 while still allowing economic activity.

Calibrated and localized quarantines are needed to address spikes in COVID-19 case so that "jobs or livelihoods will not be affected," Acting Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua said in a statement.

Strict, prolonged and blanket community quarantine cost some P2.1 billion in daily wages, he said.

The new measure approved by President Rodrigo Duterte, which placed Metro Manila, Cavite, Bulacan and Rizal under 2-week GCQ, allows businesses and services to operate, Chua said. 

Under the measure, transport and businesses are allowed to operate, essential workers are allowed entry travel and outdoor dining is also permitted.

"In order to save lives from COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 threats, the IATF recommended to add restrictions in specific areas without constraining the overall mobility of people,” Chua said.

“The issue is not simply economy versus health. It is about addressing the total health of our people, whether from COVID, non-COVID sickness, or hunger. Rest assured that the government’s goal, first and foremost, is to save lives,” he added.

Millions found themselves jobless or underemployed when the lockdown was imposed in mid-March last year, which shuttered transport, schools and businesses.

At least 4 million Filipinos in the labor force were jobless in January this year, data showed.

Chua assured the public that the government would strengthen its programs against the pandemic, including the rollout of the vaccination program.

The Philippines has started inoculating frontliners last March 1, one of the last among its Asian peers to initiate the program. It aims to inoculate at least 70 million of its population.

"We will do all of this while ensuring that majority of the people can still safely work, earn a living, and access basic services while adhering to minimum health and safety standards,” Chua said.

Gross domestic product contracted by 9.5 percent in 2020, its worst decline since the end of World War 2, data showed.