SM boss bats for ‘gradual return’ of businesses, transportation services

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 11 2020 06:43 PM | Updated as of Apr 11 2020 10:40 PM

MANILA (UPDATE)--Filipinos need stable employment to survive the coronavirus pandemic, an area in which businesses and the private sector can help, a Philippine business tycoon said Saturday.

According to SM vice-chairman Teresita Sy-Coson, businesses and the private sector can gradually continue their operations to help Filipino workers.

"We appreciate the moves of the (government) to protect Filipinos from the onslaught of COVID-19. Businesses and the private sector can help in this effort in ensuring stable employment with a gradual and calibrated increase in business activity," Sy-Coson said in a statement.

She said that businesses, while continuing their operations during the pandemic, can maintain "safeguards of social distancing, sanitation and regular disinfection."

"This gradual return of business activity as well as transportation, can help mitigate unemployment and also help accommodate returning overseas Filipino workers hit by COVID-19 elsewhere," Sy-Coson said.

"Employment is key to the health of Filipino households and families, which helps ensure food on the table that leads to stronger immunity."

Meanwhile, Megaworld Corp. chief strategist Kevin Tan said the group "fully" supports the extension of lockdown in Luzon until April 30, but hopes the mass quarantine will tone down by that time so other businesses can reopen, including public transportation.

"Hopefully by then, we will see great improvements in the rate of infections and the rollout of mass testing, which will allow us to graduate to a modified community quarantine, where some industries and low medical-risk economic activities may reopen along with public transportation," Tan said in a statement, adding that strict physical distancing, wearing of face masks and caring for persons in need should be observed.

Manila had set the mass quarantine's end date on April 12, but moved it to the end of the month.

Hundreds of businesses were forced to temporarily close after President Rodrigo Duterte placed Luzon under lockdown last month to curb the fast-spreading coronavirus.

Mass transportation services were also suspended to arrest contamination of COVID-19, which has infected more than 4,000 people in the Philippines, according to government tally.

Affected workers have been clamoring to government for financial aid to help them make ends meet due to loss of income.