MANILA - Reopening the country's economy is the only guarantee to address hunger, Malacañang said Monday after a recent survey found a record-high 7.6 million Filipino families went hungry in the past 3 months.
Government, however, will continue its programs to provide assistance for those hit by the pandemic as some P13 billion is allotted under Bayanihan 2 Act for residents of areas that will be placed under localized lockdowns, Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said.
The labor department will continue its cash-for-work program and the finance agency will still provide subsidy for small and medium businesses, he added.
"Ang garantiya na mapababa natin ang bilang ng nagugutom ay buksan ang ekonomiya nang mas marami ang makapaghanapbuhay. Ang ayuda temporary lang yan, mas mabuting bigyan natin ng permanenteng hanapbuhay muli ang ating mga kababayan," Roque told ABS-CBN's Teleradyo.
(The guarantee to decrease the number of people experiencing hunger is to open the economy so more can return to their livelihoods. Aid is temporary, it's better to give permanent livelihoods to our people.)
"Nananawagan kami sa lahat, alam ko pong nakakatakot ang COVID pero napakita na po natin dahil halos 7 buwan nang naririyan sa atin, kapag nag-mask, hugas (ng kamay) at iwas (o physical distancing) ay pupuwede naman pong magtrabaho."
(We call on everyone, we know COVID-19 is scary but in the 7 months that it has been here, we know that when we wear face masks, wash our hands and avoid others, we can go to work.)
Roque, in the same interview, said it was better to only reopen half of the economy for now.
"Kung titingnan natin ang health indicators, dapat siguro manatiling sarado ang 50 porsyento ng ating ekonomiya. Kasi pag GCQ halos 50 porsyento lang ang bukas," he said.
(If we will look at health indicators, maybe we should keep 50 percent of our economy closed. Because under GCQ, only 50 percent are open.)
The country's economy shrunk in the second quarter and plunged into recession, the first time in nearly 30 years, following one of the longest and strictest lockdowns in the world to curb the pandemic.
Government's inter-agency task force against COVID-19 is set to decide later Monday on the lockdown status of Metro Manila, which accounts for a third of the country's gross domestic product.
The Philippines as of Sunday reported 304,226 cases of COVID-19, with 5,344 deaths and 252,510 recoveries.