MANILA - Businessman Manny Pangilinan on Saturday said he was all for reopening the economy just as Metro Manila and nearby provinces Laguna, Cavite, Rizal and Bulacan remained under the strictest quarantine level amid a surge in COVID-19 cases.
“Yes! A resounding yes! We keep doing the same thing but expect a different result - Einstein had a word for that. We simply get the worst of both worlds. Let’s trust our people to keep themselves sound and healthy,” Pangilinan said in a tweet.
Pangilinan was reacting to The Philippine Star's story “Time to reopen economy?” published early Saturday morning. Pangilinan is CEO of PLDT, the beneficial trust fund of which owns Media Quest Holdings, which has a majority stake in the Philippine Star.
The Inter-Agency Task Force will meet Saturday to decide on the quarantine status for the NCR Plus bubble, amid calls by health experts to extend the enhanced community quarantine, the strictest restriction, in the area as COVID-19 cases continued to rise.
The OCTA Research Group proposed extending the lockdown by another week to further bring down the reproduction rate of the virus. OCTA Research fellow Dr. Guido David said the reproduction number in the bubble has gone down to 1.24, from Wednesday’s 1.43.
On Thursday, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas said it was too early to say whether the reimposed lockdown over Metro Manila and nearby provinces will drag down sentiments.
Acting Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Chua earlier said he expected the economy to bounce back in the second quarter as the economy opened up.
But this was before surging COVID-19 cases forced the government to reimpose ECQ in NCR Plus, which is the country's most economically productive region.
In February, some business leaders warned of slowed growth for the Philippines, saying full recovery could take four to five years. The pandemic, which shuttered businesses for much of last year, had dragged the economy to its worst peacetime contraction in 2020, while unemployment soared.
As of Friday, the Philippines has recorded a total of 840,554 confirmed cases, including 647,683 recoveries and 14,520 deaths. Active infections reported on Friday reached an all-time high at 178,351, as Philippine hospitals strained under the upsurge of infections.