Finance chief wants Metro Manila and CALABARZON region to be placed under MGCQ soon

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 1) – Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III appealed to President Rodrigo Duterte to place Metro Manila and the CALABARZON region under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) “as quickly as possible” for economic reasons.

In the weekly Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Infectious Diseases meeting on Tuesday, Dominguez explained the country’s economy is highly dependent on the two regions in Luzon.

“You put NCR (National Capital Region), CALABARZON— that is where the economy is based, about 60 percent or 67 percent of our economy is based in that area. That should move more to the MGCQ as quickly as possible because people have to start working,” Dominguez told the President.

The Finance chief noted the country’s strong economic fundamentals when the year started.

“It was supposed to be an upper middle income country by this year prior to COVID-19 but we won’t make it,” said Dominguez.

Several international financial institutions predicted a significant economic contraction for the country this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

International Monetary Fund sees an up to 3.6 percent economic decline, while Asian Development Bank expects the Philippine economy to shrink by 3.8 percent. The World Bank takes a less pessimistic outlook, with a 1.9 percent contraction.

“We have to face the new reality. The reality today is that the virus is not going to go away and we will have to live with it for a long period of time,” Dominguez added.

Dominguez suggested that to solve the fear of the virus’ spread in Metro Manila and CALABARZON regions under a MGCQ setting, only targeted lockdowns must be implemented in barangays and companies with high number of COVID-19 cases.

“For me, we should monitor it on a barangay level. The cases go up, just close it down but do it on a place-to-place basis and do it also on a company-to-company basis. So if the company has a big spike close it down also,” he said.

Duterte decided on Tuesday to still keep Metro Manila, Rizal, and Cavite under general community quarantine until July 15. While Batangas, Laguna, Quezon, and Lucena City are now under MGCQ on the same timeframe.

READ: Cebu City stays under strictest ECQ, Metro Manila still on GCQ

In an MGCQ setting, some businesses are allowed to operate up to 50 percent of its full capacity. These include gyms, cinemas, computer shops, bars, travel agencies, amusement facilities for children, archives, museums, pet grooming, and other personal care services.

Tourism-related businesses are also allowed to accept tourists in MGCQ areas, but also on a reduced capacity of only up to 50 percent of their full space.