Philippine economy to collapse if return to "lockdown" - DTI chief
Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez warned on Wednesday that the economy would collapse if the government would enforce again lockdowns in most parts of the country amid the surge in new coronavirus cases.
In the pre-SONA (State of the Nation Address) forum aired via state-run PTV network, Lopez said the rising number of COVID-19 cases was due to a "lot of testings" that the government has been doing.
"But we have to look at the whole picture. Many have also recovered compared to when the pandemic started," he said, adding that positivity and death rates were decreasing compared to when the health crisis began several months ago.
'What I really want to say really is if we come to a phase that there is tightening, the economy will really collapse if we push for stricter lockdown," he said.
Lopez said at this point, many have been saying that "our direction now is really find that balance on the economy and the health and safety of the citizen."
Currently, only Cebu City is under the strict enhanced community quarantine while Metro Manila and a few other areas are under general community quarantine. Most parts of the country are under a more relaxed quarantine classification - the modified general community quarantine.
President Rodrigo Duterte is expected to announce later in the day the new quarantine classification in different parts of the country.
Lopez assured that as the economy opens up, his office would make sure different establishments, including retail stores, would follow minimum health protocols.
"We are very strict because if they won't follow, we close the establishments until they correct their deficiency," he said.
He stressed the need to create livelihood and income for the people.
In the same forum, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, co-chair of the IATF, said if there would be "lockdowns," they would be implemented at the street, barangay or community level.
"If the LGU is fast in its action, it need not wait for the IATF to declare an area under community quarantine. Because it's more specific...the entire province or the entire city won't be affected," he said.
However, he said if a lockdown would be enforced in a specific place, it should be within 14 days, not only to a few days.
Nograles said this was the reason the government is "comfortable in opening up the economy slowly but surely because our 'lockdowns' or community quarantine are still there at localized level."
As of July 15, the COVID-19 cases in the Philippines rose to 58,850, with 36,260 active cases, 20,976 recoveries, and 1,614 deaths. Celerina Monte/DMS