President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday said opening up the economy to its “pre-COVID-19 levels” was not yet an option to the government as infections continue to multiply nationwide.
“To open up the economy to pre-COVID-19 levels at this time is not an option because whatever good it can produce will only be gobbled up or be outweighed by the bad it will generate,” Duterte said in his fifth State of the Nation Address.
“Sometimes, haste makes waste. The recent upsurge of infections when we opened little windows of resumption of business is proof of that,” he added.
The Philippines saw an uptick in coronavirus infections after quarantine restrictions were loosened early in June in a bid to restart the economy amid the pandemic.
“In other places, they opened up too early too soon. America is one. China, well fortunately, it was arrested on time. Those who opened up and those who do not follow the protocols of at least the World Health Organization, they are suffering,” Duterte noted.
The president also said that “no nation on earth was really prepared for COVID,” but Asian nations Vietnam and Taiwan are among those lauded worldwide for bringing COVID-19 transmission under control.
The number of jobless Filipinos hit record-high in April as the economic impact of the coronavirus disease 2019 caused the displacement of millions of workers, Philippine Statistics Authority’s latest Labor Force Survey shows.
“Unemployment rate rose to 17.7%, equivalent to 7.3 million unemployed Filipinos in the labor force in April 2020,” National Statistician Claire Dennis Mapa said in early June.
“This is a record high in the unemployment rate reflecting the effects of economic shutdown to the Philippine labor market, due to COVID-19,” Mapa said.
To stem the spread of COVID-19, the government enforced strict quarantine measures starting March 17. The lockdown forced several businesses to temporarily close, rendering millions of workers jobless.
Unemployment rate last April was way too high compared with the 5.3% in the January 2020 survey, and 5.1% in April 2019.
“In terms of magnitude, the number of unemployed persons increased by five million from 2.3 million in April 2019 to 7.3 million in April 2020,” Mapa said.
All regions reported double-digit unemployment rates, according to Mapa.
Unemployment rate was highest at 29.8% in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARRM).
The Philippines, meanwhile, has logged 82,040 cases as of Monday with 26,446 recoveries and 1,945 fatalities, making it the country with the second-highest number of infections across Southeast Asia.
This marks the 13th consecutive day during which over 1,300 new infections were reported.
The five provinces with the highest number of new cases were Metro Manila with 1,017, Laguna with 89, Cavite with 38, Cebu with 31, and Rizal with 31.
Experts from the University of the Philippines earlier projected that COVID-19 cases in the country would soar past 85,000 by the end of the month, which Malacañang said may prompt Metro Manila’s return to a modified enhanced community quarantine.
Despite the continued rise in cases, the DOH said the Philippines was still not experiencing its second wave of infections. -NB, GMA News