Why giving out ‘ayuda’ during a lockdown isn’t sustainable


Posted at Aug 05 2021 05:36 AM

Residents wait as authorities distribute quarantine passes in Barangay Batis, San Juan
Residents wait as authorities distribute quarantine passes in Barangay Batis, San Juan, on August 4, 2021, ahead of the implementation of the ECQ in the NCR. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA—The government needs to implement a more cost-efficient way to contain the spread of COVID-19, as the capital region braces for another hard lockdown.

Ronald Mendoza, dean of the Ateneo School of Government, on Wednesday said the Philippine economy will continue to suffer as long as the lockdown remains in place.

"We are having this reputation in the world as having implemented one of the longest lockdowns ever for the control of COVID-19. That's not a good sign because that means we have also paid the heaviest economic price to contain the virus because we do not have a more cost-efficient way of flattening the COVID-19 curve," Mendoza said.

Some 13 million residents of Metro Manila will be placed under the strictest lockdown level, the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), from August 6 to 20 to arrest the spread of the highly transmissible COVID-19 Delta variant.

With the impending hard lockdown, the government has approved to provide P1,000 financial aid per person to around 10.7 million residents in Metro Manila.

Mendoza said the government cannot just keep on giving financial aid every time there is a hard lockdown.

"We cannot keep transferring money to 80 percent of the population with each and every lockdown that we do. We're going to fall apart. Basically, we're going to erode all the buffers we have been working so hard to build in the last decade," he said.

"And now, because of our inability to revert to a more cost-efficient containment, besides lockdown, we're going to be spending all our buffers and we keep on eroding them."

Mendoza is hoping government can implement a more cost-efficient way to fight the spread of COVID-19, and use the upcoming 2-week enhanced community quarantine to protect the people.

"I believe this is actually a race against time for us to try and use of this lockdown very, very well, protect our people, but at the same time make sure that we can now graduate to something more cost-efficient after this," he added.

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Malacañang on Tuesday said it hoped Metro Manila's upcoming return to the strictest quarantine level would "be our last ever lockdown." 

Authorities were "guided by science" in placing the capital region's 13 million people under enhanced community quarantine, said Palace spokesman Harry Roque. 

The ECQ will start before cases are expected to spike by August 15, Roque added in a press briefing.

Vice-President Leni Robredo said coronavirus testing should hit 120,000 a day from the current 50, so authorities could identify areas to focus on.

Authorities should also be "hospital-ready" because some people might die without getting admitted to healthcare facilities in case of a surge in infections, like what happened last March and April

As of Wednesday, the Philippines has a total of 1,619,824 COVID-19 cases, of which 63,171 are considered active cases.

To date, the government has been able to administer 21.8 million virus jabs, over 12 million of which are first doses. 

A total of 9.8 million people, meanwhile, are fully vaccinated against the disease, accounting for 13.87 percent of the target nearly 71 million Filipinos by yearend. 


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