PH can’t afford to extend MECQ as economic costs pile up – Roque

enablePagination: false
maxItemsPerPage: 10
maxPaginationLinks: 10


Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 4) – Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the Philippine economy can no longer handle an extended lockdown as its biggest economic hubs revert to strict stay-at-home rules for the next two weeks.

"Tatapatin ko po kayo: Hindi na po kaya ng ekonomiya ang mas matagalan pang lockdown. Napakatindi po ng binaba ng ating ekonomiya (for the second quarter)," Roque said in his Tuesday media briefing, but did not give specific figures.

[Translation: I will be honest with you: the economy can no longer handle an even longer lockdown. Our economy suffered a steep decline (for the second quarter).]

The Philippine Statistics Authority will announce official data on Thursday. Marikina Rep. Stella Quimbo, an economist, said the lockdown costs ₱12 billion in lost opportunities a day.

READ: Gov't vows 'recalibrated' strategy vs COVID-19 as greater Manila area reverts to MECQ

Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion said Monday that a possible extension of the modified enhanced community quarantine in Metro Manila, Bulacan, Rizal, Laguna, and Cavite will pose a "serious" concern, adding that he preferred localized hard lockdowns to curb infections.

Members of the economic team said the economy reached its lowest point during April-May when the entire Luzon and other provinces which enforced their own lockdowns saw businesses paralyzed as the government sought to contain COVID-19 infections.

So far, authorities expect the economy to shrink by as much as 3.4 percent this year due to the ill effects of the pandemic, but that number may change depending on how the second-quarter figures turn out.

International lenders expect a deeper recession, with the Asian Development Bank's worst forecast at 5.3 percent, before rebounding to growth next year.

RELATED: PH economy may not return to 6% growth post-pandemic – analyst

The 2020 contraction would be the first time since 1998. At the time, the country reeled from the Asian Financial Crisis.

In July, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said he wants Metro Manila and Calabarzon to scale down to the most relaxed set of quarantine rules as soon as possible, given that the two areas account for two-thirds of national output. However, both were included in the reversal to modified enhanced community quarantine until August 18 upon health workers' request for a "timeout."

Roque said that at present, only about 30 percent of establishments are allowed to operate. When these areas were under general community quarantine, about 75 percent of the economy was open, according to Acting Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua.

RELATED: More COVID-19 tests to prevent return to ECQ – NEDA