'It could have been worse,' says Palace on 'record-high' adult joblessness

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 17 2020 02:34 PM

Jeepney drivers serving the Monumento-Malabon route beg for money along the road in Caloocan City on August 8, 2020 amid the modified enhanced community quarantine. The drivers return to begging under MECQ after their route and other select routes was previously allowed to operate under GCQ. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - It is unsurprising that there is a "record-high" number of jobless Filipinos given the shutdown of the economy due to the coronavirus pandemic, Malacañang said Monday, adding the situation "could have been worse."

Almost half of all Filipino adults, or around 27.3 million individuals, are jobless according to the Social Weather Stations’ national mobile phone survey conducted last July. The 45.5 percent adult joblessness rate is a new record-high since the 34.4 percent in March 2012, SWS said.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the results of the poll could have been worse given the continuing lockdowns across the country since March.

"Ako po'y nagagalak na hindi tayo 100 percent nawalan ng trabaho kasi, sa tagal po na naka-lockdown tayo, talagang I'm still surprised at our resilience at 45 percent pa lang po ang nawawalan ng trabaho," Roque said.

(I am glad that not everyone lost their jobs because of the long lockdowns. I'm still surprised at our resilience, that only 45 percent have lost their jobs.)

"It could have been worse kasi nga po, complete lockdown ang nangyayari sa atin," he added.

(It could have been worse because we are imposing complete lockdowns.)

The Philippine economy shrank by a record 16.5 percent in the second quarter, plunging the country into recession for the first time in nearly 30 years. Restrictive quarantine measures were imposed beginning mid-March.

But despite having one of the longest and strictest lockdowns in the world, the Philippines continues to see an increase in COVID-19 cases, with 161, 253 confirmed COVID-19 infections as of Sunday, 46,002 of which are active. 

The government is looking at measures to keep businesses afloat, especially small ones, Roque said.

"I think government is looking at opening the economy and providing financial assistance to small and medium-scale enterprises, also assistance to strategic businesses --even if it is not small and medium scale," he said.

President Rodrigo Duterte may announce Monday evening new lockdown classifications for Metro Manila and its neighboring provinces of Bulacan, Rizal, Cavite and Laguna for the period beginning Aug. 19.