Business expert warns health officials: Raising COVID-19 alert level will kill small businesses

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 1) — Go Negosyo founder Joey Concepcion is urging incoming health officials not to raise the country’s alert level amid rising COVID-19 cases.

In an online forum, Concepcion, former President Rodrigo Duterte’s adviser for entrepreneurship, said many businesses will not survive if stricter restrictions are imposed.

Most areas in the country, including Metro Manila, are under the most lenient Alert Level 1, which imposes no mobility and capacity restrictions.

“That will really kill many MSMEs (micro, small and medium enterprises) who have just taken new loans to refinance their debt, so we will really have to prevent alert levels from being raised,” Concepcion said.

Concepcion also underscored the importance of strengthening the agriculture sector.

He said it was a good idea for President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. to take on the agriculture department as many of the country’s small entrepreneurs are in this sector.

Aside from economic reforms, political analyst Ramon Casiple said it would also be a good time for Marcos to bring back charter change into the agenda since he is expected to command a supermajority in Congress.

Most of the winning senators were allied with Marcos’s UniTeam. Meanwhile, Marcos’s cousin, Leyte Representative Martin Romualdez, is making moves to get the backing of mainstream political parties in the lower house. Romualdez is poised to assume the speakership of the House of Representatives in the incoming 19th Congress.

Casiple said one of the urgent issues in the cha-cha discussion is the shift to federalism or overhauling the structure of government.

“I would like to think that the Marcos administration would be open to that precisely because this Constitution is already quite old, there are a lot of things that need to be addressed,” Casiple said.

During his presidential campaign, Marcos said he was open to amending the Constitution but added it may be difficult to push as most believe lawmakers are merely looking to extend their terms.

Coincidentally, on Friday, Pampanga Representative Dong Gonzales Jr. filed a resolution calling for changes in the Constitution to extend the Philippine president’s term up to ten years.