The Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), the country’s largest business organization, on Wednesday hit the government for its last-minute change of mind and keeping Metro Manila under modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ).
“Authorities must be prudent in prematurely announcing half-studied policies or policy shifts as they have tremendous impact on business operations and people’s daily lives,” PCCI acting president Edgardo Lacson said in a statement.
The National Capital Region was supposed to shift to general community quarantine (GCQ) with an alert levels system starting September 8.
National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19 spokesperson Restituto Padilla said that the GCQ with alert levels system in Metro Manila was deferred as mayors raised concerns on the presented guidelines.
PCCI’s Lacson said that there is a huge financial cost on business enterprises when plans and preparations are dislocated by the last-minute cancellation or postponement of the anticipated relaxation of the quarantine protocols.
“Authorities must be careful in recklessly raising public expectations that will not be matched by the outcome. There is a risk that it might cause disappointment followed by frustrations and could trigger depression and despair,” he said.
The PCCI chief also said that the cancelation of the implementation of granular lockdown diminishes the credibility of official policy announcements and could be extremely disastrous in future reversal of official policy pronouncements.
“It may be apropos to remember the learnings from Aesop’s fable about the boy who falsely cried wolf too often that nobody in the village of sheep farmers believed until all their sheep were lost from the pack of wolves,” Lacson said.
Business owner Inchang Mendoza, likewise, aired frustrations over the last-minute policy change as she already prepared for the supposed shift of Metro Manila to GCQ, wherein dine-in services are allowed at a limited capacity.
The PCCI earlier said the implementation of a granular lockdown would have positive implications on business, saying that it would remove the "intermittent and harmful" regional lockdown protocol and "discrimination" between essential and non-essential businesses as both now will be allowed to operate under certain relaxed health guidelines.
The PCCI is pushing for the full opening of the economy even if the herd immunity threshold is unmet due to the moving and elusive target of 50% to 100% inoculation of the population. — BM, GMA News