MANILA - Finance Sec. Carlos "Sonny" Domínguez III said Filipinos will have to "face reality" that the novel coronavirus isn't going away anytime soon, and that the Philippine economy needs to run to support the country's fight against the pandemic.
In a Malacanang briefing streamed late Tuesday evening, Domínguez said that 60 percent of the country's economy is based in Metro Manila and Calabarzon, and recommended to President Rodrigo Duterte to place the two regions under a modified general community quarantine "as quickly as possible."
"People have to start working," the finance chief said. Under a modified general community quarantine, more establishments in a specified region or area will be allowed to continue their operations, but are still under COVID-19 policies.
Both Metro Manila and Calabarzon were placed under strict quarantine after cases of COVID-19 rapidly rose in both regions early March.
To prevent further coronavirus infections in a city or region, Dominguez suggested placing lockdown placing barangays under lockdown based on their number of coronavirus cases, so other areas or villages will not be affected economically.
He also said lockdowns can also be placed on "company-to-company" basis.
"If the company has a big spike [of infections], close them down also," Dominguez said.
Duterte meanwhile said the pandemic has "eaten up a lot of" the country's treasury, calling on Filipinos again to stay at home to avoid being infected by the pathogen.
"Kung maaari lang, lalo na sa matatanda, 'wag na ho muna kayo lumabas," he said.
(If it's possible, especially for the elderly, don't go out yet.)
In the same briefing, the President blasted the Visayan people for allegedly violating lockdown policies that led to the surge of COVID-19 cases in their region.
Cebu City in Central Visayas has recorded the most number of infections in the country, with 4,639 reported as of Monday.
To date, the Philippines has recorded 37,514 coronavirus cases with 1,266 fatalities and 10,233 recoveries.