MANILA – Malacañang on Tuesday said general community quarantine (GCQ) bubble placed over Metro Manila and four nearby provinces is not a “lockdown” because the economy remains open.
This, after former Vice President Jejomar Binay claimed that the government refuses to call the GCQ bubble a lockdown because it would be an “admission of their failure, neglect, and incompetence.”
“Bukas po ang ekonomiya. When we talk of lockdown sa MECQ [modified enhanced community quarantine] at saka sa ECQ [enhanced community quarantine], sinarado po talaga natin ang ekonomiya para lahat ng tao ay manatili sa kanilang mga tahanan. Iyon po talaga ang lockdown (The economy is open. When we talk of lockdown in an MECQ and ECQ, they close the economy so people stay inside their homes. That’s what you call a lockdown),” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a virtual press briefing.
Instead of a lockdown, Roque said pandemic response managers decided to limit mobility to control the spike in Covid-19 cases.
Acting National Economic Development Authority Secretary Karl Chua, meanwhile, said placing Metro Manila under another lockdown would lead to more residents going hungry, losing their jobs, and foregoing treatment for other non-Covid-19 diseases.
He also said another lockdown would cost residents in Metro Manila and adjacent provinces PHP7-million in wages per day.
Chua, meanwhile, emphasized the need for a careful and calibrated approach to care for both Covid-19 cases and the majority facing hunger and other diseases.
“Dahil nga po doon sa cost-benefit na binigay ni Sec. Chua ay wala pong lockdown (We did not impose a lockdown because of the cost-benefits mentioned by Secretary Chua). It’s a limitation on mobility,” Roque said.
Roque also rejected anew claims that the government refused to label additional restrictions under the GCQ bubble as lockdown to avoid distributing cash aid to poor families affected by the pandemic.
“Government can always find the money, pero ang usapin po ayuda (but talks of aid) will never be enough, hindi po iyan magiging substitute doon sa pagtatrabaho ng ating mga mamamayan para makita nila o kitain iyong mga pangangailangan nila (It cannot substitute what they will earn from working to support their needs). It’s only a stop gap measure,” he said.
He pointed out that local government units (LGUs) continue to provide financial assistance to residents in areas under granular or localized lockdowns due to high Covid-19 cases.
Roque said keeping the businesses open despite additional restrictions is also an attempt to minimize economic losses.
Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed that lockdowns and the fall in consumption translate to total income losses of around PHP1.04 trillion in 2020 or an average of PHP2.8 billion pesos a day.
President Rodrigo Duterte, in a speech on Monday, said closing businesses would spell “disaster” for the Philippine economy. (PNA)