NEDA chief says modified ECQ to affect economic growth due to reduced activity

Jessica Fenol, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 07 2020 02:28 PM

A health worker waits for a ride at a waiting shed outside the Pasig City General Hospital on August 6, 2020. George Calvelo, ABS - CBN News

MANILA - The return of several areas under modified enhanced community quarantine will have an impact on economic growth as industries allowed to reopen were reduced, Acting Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua said Friday.

At least 50 percent of the economy remain open after Metro Manila, Bulacan, Rizal, Cavite and Laguna were reverted to modified ECQ from Aug. 4 to Aug. 18, down from 75 percent during the general community quarantine, Chua said in a press briefing.

President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the return of the stricter lockdown in epicenter Metro Manila and its surrounding provinces as medical workers appealed for "breathing space" as the country's health care system was overwhelmed by the surge in the number of COVID-19 cases. 

Confirmed cases rose exponentially after lockdown measures were eased. As of Thursday, cases have reached over 119,000, making the Philippines the Southeast Asian country with the highest number of infections. 

"Bumalik po tayo sa mga 50 percent, medyo bumaba po. It will have an impact on economic growth. Pero ang mahalaga dito kung hindi natin tutugunan ang kulang pa sa health care system and response, this problem will prolong itself," Chua said.

(We are back to 50 percent, it's a little bit lower. It will have an impact on economic growth. But what's important here is that we need to respond to the need of the healthcare system, otherwise this problem will prolong itself)

"Let's give this 2 weeks a chance to give [the] health care [sector time] to address the problem... If we did nothing, hindi po sustainable ang ating economic recovery (our economic recovery won't be sustainable). That’s why I think it's better to take one step back so we can take 2 steps forward." he added.

The Philippines' second-quarter gross domestic product contracted by 16.5 percent, reflecting the full impact of the coronavirus lockdowns. It dropped -0.7 in the first quarter. 

Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Gov. Benjamin Diokno earlier said reverting to MECQ has "limited economic impact."

The government on Thursday revised downward its estimated growth for 2020 to a contraction of as much as 5.5 percent from its earlier forecast of 3.4 percent drop due to the pandemic.