IF the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) had its way, the entire archipelago would be under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) starting March 1 if only to balance health and economy.
NEDA Director General Karl Chua proposed the imposition of a nationwide MGCQ in what he aptly described as an urgent need to consider balancing the country’s response to stop the spread of COVID-19 and the need of Filipinos to start earning and spending.
His proposal has already been adopted by the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF), which submitted the recommendation to President Rodrigo Duterte for approval.
“Kailangan po nating mag-shift sa lalong madaling panahon sa MGCQ for the entire Philippines, sana starting March 1, 2021 para i-address po ‘yong hunger o yung mataas na antas ng mga Pilipinong nagugutom,” Chua said.
NEDA earlier hinted at a P1.04-trillion income loss in 2020 or P2.8 billion per day due to the quarantine restrictions since March 2020, representing a P23,000 annual income loss per worker.
“Ang recommendation po namin, dapat ibalanse natin. Di naman po natin sinasabi na ibukas lang po natin ang ekonomiya at ‘wag na nating pakialaman ‘yong COVID-19 cases,” Chua said.
“Kailangan po natin both at nakita po natin, nagbukas po tayo last October at dumaan po ang Christmas vacation, ‘di naman po umakyat ang COVID cases,” he added.
Amid the continuing pandemic scare, Chua warded off fears of an Armageddon, adding that localized lockdowns in the barangay or municipal level can be used to address the local spread of the virus.
“The main reason po is gusto na nating ma-mitigate o mabawasan ‘yong sickness, hunger, poverty, job and income loss that are arising from non-COVID cases,” Chua said.
Moreover, NEDA proposed increasing the capacity allowed in public transport from 50 percent to 75 percent, complimenting public transport with active transport via bike lanes, allowing more provincial buses to operate, expanding the age groups allowed to leave their homes from 15 to 65 to five to 70 and resuming the pilot-testing of face-to-face classes.