MANILA - The Philippines has no other alternative but to reopen the economy even as coronavirus infections continue to rise, Malacañang said Monday, a day after the country confirmed the highest daily increase in COVID-19 cases.
The Philippines on Sunday confirmed the most number of COVID-19 cases in a day at 2,434, bringing the country’s total to 44,254 and triggering concerns on the easing of lockdowns.
"Tingin ko po, wala po talaga tayong alternatibo kundi magbukas ng ekonomiya," Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said in a Palace press briefing.
(I think we have no other alternative but to open the economy.)
"Napakita po natin kung ano na ang naging impact ng COVID-19. Kung hindi natin mabubuksan, e baka mamaya, buhay nga tayo pero mamamatay naman tayo dahil wala tayong hanapbuhay," he added.
(We saw the impact of COVID-19. If we don't open the economy, we might be alive but we will also die because we have no more jobs.)
Only Cebu City remains under strict lockdown as the government moved to restore consumer confidence particularly in Metro Manila and the Southern Tagalog Region (Calabarzon), the main drivers of the economy.
"Wala na talaga tayong alternatibo, dahil sagad na rin ang ating ekonomiya, kinakailangan na tayong maghanapbuhay lahat," Roque said.
(We have no other alternative because our economy is also pushed to its end. We need to work.)
"Pag tayo po ay bumalik sa mas striktong quarantine, baka wala na po tayong hanapbuhay na pupwedeng gawin."
(If we return to a stricter quarantine, we might lose our livelihoods.)
Since the major easing of lockdowns last month, the government has geared its pandemic response to economic recovery after it contracted for the first time in 22 years.
Unemployment also rose to 17.7 percent in April which translates to some 7.3 million jobless Filipinos.
While there is a need to reopen the economy, Roque stressed that precautionary measures would still be implemented and observed as there is a need to balance protecting public health and ensuring the livelihood of Filipinos.
"Kinakailangan na pong buksan ang ekonomiya pero patuloy pa rin po ang pag-iingat," he said.
(We need to open the economy but we still should be careful.)