MANILA-- Localized lockdowns is the way forward in the Philippines' fight against COVID-19, Malacañang said Thursday as it emphasized the need to salvage the economy dragged down by the pandemic.
"Ingat Buhay Para sa Hanapbuhay" will be the government's new battle cry as it shelved plans for widespread lockdowns, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said.
"Tapos na po iyong pagbibigay lamang ng ayuda dahil hindi na po natin plano na magkaroon nang malawakang lockdowns," Roque said during a Palace press briefing.
(We are done with giving dole-outs because we no longer plan to impose widespread lockdowns.)
A recent Social Weather Stations survey showed that two out of five adult Filipinos, or around 40 percent, are expecting the economy to worsen in the next 12 months as the COVID-19 pandemic lingers in the country.
The 40 percent "economic pessimists" in July 2020 is the highest in over 12 years, since the 52 percent in June 2008, according to SWS.
Roque said the Palace understands the pessimism of Filipinos but noted that the "the worst has hit us" following the strict lockdowns and "it can only be better."
The government has kept nearly the entire Philippines under relaxed virus restrictions until the end of the month in a bid to boost economic activity after the country fell into recession in the second quarter.
Economic activity was halted by the lockdowns imposed starting mid-March until June, when the government slowly eased restrictions.
"Dahil nga po sa matinding epekto ng lockdown, ang kinakailangan po natin ngayon ay engganyuhin ang lahat na pag-ingatan ang ating mga buhay para po tayo ay makapaghanapbuhay," Roque said.
(Because of the strong effect of the lockdown, we need to enjoin everyone to be careful so we all could work.)
The Philippines employs a 4-level community quarantine scheme ranging from the strictest enhanced community quarantine to the most relaxed modified general community quarantine (MGCQ).
The quarantine level dictates the type of business activities allowed in a certain area, as well as travel restrictions.
Except for Iligan City, Bacolod City, and Lanao del Sur which are under the modified enhanced community quarantine, the rest of the Philippines were placed under more relaxed virus restrictions.
The Philippines has logged 245,143 confirmed coronavirus infections, of which, 55,614 are active cases, as of Sept. 9. The country's first case was reported on Jan. 30 in a Chinese woman who arrived from Wuhan City, China where the disease is believed to have first emerged.
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