Modified ECQ shift has 'limited economic impact': BSP Gov. Diokno

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 03 2020 11:14 AM | Updated as of Aug 03 2020 11:28 PM

A residents walks home from a grocery store in Makati City on March 26, 2020 as the enhanced community quarantine is enforced all over Metro Manila. Fernando G. Sepe Jr., ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA - The shift back to modified enhanced community quarantine will have "limited economic impact," Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Gov. Benjamin Diokno said Monday as analysts said doing so would make it more difficult for businesses to survive the pandemic.

Metro Manila, Cavite, Laguna, Rizal and Bulacan were placed back under modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) from Aug. 4 to Aug. 18 after confirmed COVID-19 cases surged. 

The pandemic is a "public health issue," which means each individual has a role to play in mitigating its effects, Diokno said in a statement.

"Two week shift from GCQ to MECQ for NCR and part of Region 4-A would have limited economic impact. But this highlights the inconvenient truth that the solution to this pandemic is not solely the responsibility of the government. It is equally the responsibility of the general public," Diokno said.

However, an analyst said reverting back to modified ECQ would be "difficult" for businesses since public transport would be suspended and would hamper movement of employees.

The second lockdown "is harder this time around" since funds have been depleted and that other means to compensate for suspended operations, such as vacation and sick leaves have been exhausted, vice president of research at COL Financial April Lee Tan told ANC. 

"Some retailers might feel that potential sales that they will generate is not even enough to cover for the cost of having to shuttle people in to work," Tan said.

"It’s going to be difficult for businesses...at this point, I think those reserves are finished, even the government is saying they don’t have money anymore," she added.

The MRT-3 and LRT on Monday said operations would be suspended in compliance with MECQ guidelines. 

In a statement, Management Association of the Philippines president Francis Lim said the shift to MECQ is "bitter but necessary pill" in order to support medical frontliners.

“It’s a bitter but necessary pill given the plight of our medical frontliners. We hope that the government will deep dive into our COVID-19 strategy and find more effective ways to execute it," Lim said.

The first quarter gross domestic product contracted for the first time since 1998 due to the impact of COVID-19 and resulting lockdowns. Second quarter GDP could be worse, as it covers majority of the lockdowns imposed, officials earlier said.

Second quarter GDP will be announced on Aug. 6.

Some 30 percent of businesses in the Philippines have closed since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the Department of Trade and Industry earlier said while some 7.3 million Filipinos were jobless in April, government data showed. 

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--- with reports from Michelle Ong and Warren De Guzman, ABS-CBN News