Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez on Friday said it’s time for the gradual expansion of the economy’s reopening to help address hunger and unemployment issues that have arisen amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We believe that we found a formula pero since ang advice ng maraming expert ay ano muna, huwag bigla-bigla, dahan-dahan so we waited kaya ito hong—where are right now actually is a point na where we waited already ‘no. Nag-antay na po tayo,” he said in a Laging Handa briefing.
He echoed the National Economic and Development Authority in saying that “it’s no longer between health and economy.”
“It’s already between iyong health at saka iyong ibang health issues na lumalabas ngayon dahil sa kagutuman. Because of hunger, because of malnutrition, iyong mga ibang diseases, ibang health problems lumalabas. Stunted growth pati iyong katalinuhan ng ating mga kabataan, kung malnourished iyong ating kabataan dahil nga ho sa kahirapan, iyong mga magulang nila walang trabaho,” he said.
“Hindi pa ho nakakabalik lahat, 1.6 million pa ho kung ikukumpara natin na hindi pa nakabalik sa trabaho, compared to pre-pandemic levels ng employment,” he added.
Lopez stressed that reopening the economy would not require relaxing health protocols.
“Ang health protocol po hindi ho niluluwagan, it’s only opening a bit the economy and hopefully down the road, iyong pati age restriction,” he said.
Lopez said the economy was supposed to start reopening in November 2020 but was stopped over fears of the holiday surge in Covid-19 cases.
“Nag-antay na po tayo, November pa iyon pinag-intay kasi December daw magkaroon ng surge kasi holiday season so nag-antay, pinalagpas ang December. Pinalagpas ang January kasi baka raw iyong mga tests noong after the holidays, ng mga reunion ay tumaas, mag-spike,” he said.
“So we are hopeful. We are confident na mami-maintain po natin itong dahan-dahan na reopening and yet wala ho tayong ie-expect na surge or spike. Basta ang importante ho maingat ang taumbayan… iyong pag-iingat [at] nagko-comply,” he added.
The country’s gross domestic product plunged by a record-low 8.3 percent in the fourth quarter of 2020, resulting in a 9.5-percent GDP contraction for 2020.
Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III earlier said P2 billion was being lost daily due to the pandemic. John Ezekiel J. Hirro