MANILA - Senator Grace Poe said Monday small businesses should be represented in the country's coronavirus task force to protect them from abrupt quarantine implementations.
Poe said she filed Senate Resolution No. 817 asking the lawmakers to assess the impact of COVID-19 restrictions on micro, small and medium enterprises, especially the food and beverage industry, which are struggling to stay afloat.
Poe said food and beverage business owners need at least 1-week lead time before the implementation of new restrictions to plan ahead properly.
"The focus on this will be on why is it crucial for the leaders of MSMEs to have a representation in the IATF. They really need a voice and representation," Poe said.
Restaurants' dine-in option is the first to be suspended every time a lockdown is imposed. Restaurants can only accept delivery and take-out orders.
In the Philippines, 99 percent of businesses are composed of MSMEs or about 1 million firms. At least 10 percent have closed down in 2020. The closure could reach 16 percent this year, Poe said.
“MSMEs should be part of the equation when we plan the implementation of lockdowns. If we keep leaving them out, it will be harder for our economy to bounce back with not many businesses left after the pandemic,” she added.
Metro Manila is under a 2-week hard lockdown from Aug. 6 to Aug. 20, which means non-essential businesses would be shut while essential firms would have to do with minimal foot traffic.
Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Chua said the economy could lose P150 billion each week that Metro Manila is in lockdown, higher than the initial estimate of P105 billion.