The Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) on Saturday said reopening of the economy is necessary to prevent further economic damage and job losses, along with continued rollout of COVID-19 vaccines and adherence to health protocols.
“It’s time we learn that lockdown is not the remedy,” ECOP president Sergio Ortiz-Luis Jr. said in a statement.
“Let’s compromise, we have to think that the economy is more important and we have to live with COVID-19,” he said.
Ortiz-Luis made the statement amid speculations of possible extension of the two-week enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in Metro Manila after August 20.
Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez earlier said that the possibility of extending the ECQ in Metro Manila for another three weeks is not yet on the table, and talks of a five-week ECQ are mere rumors and disinformation.
Citing government estimates, Ortiz-Luis said lockdowns cost the economy P150 billion a week, or P300 billion for the two-week ECQ.
Further, he pointed out that the estimated lockdown losses are on top of business closures that lead to unemployment.
"It would have been much productive and useful to channel even a fifth of these losses to strengthen our healthcare system to address the cases and for prevention measures,” the ECOP chief said.
Ortiz-Luis, likewise, noted that the number of deaths related to the coronavirus is small compared to those who die due to other diseases, and even suicide and hunger.
He said there is thus a need to intensify monitoring of severe cases as a large majority of COVID-19 infections are asymptomatic.
“Let us not be fixated on the numbers. Instead, let us intensify and fast-track our vaccination.
"Let us not forget practicing health protocols and comply with quarantine classifications. Continue adding hospital rooms, facilities, COVID-19 centers…,” he said.
Ortiz-Luis also reiterated the urgent need and importance of waiving the Data Privacy Act to facilitate contact tracing.
"Government has already suspended many of our civil rights in the interest of safety and health, the latest of which is the prohibition for those in the ECQ areas from going out of their homes for physical exercises," he said.
"Many known personalities have already made voluntary disclosures on their COVID-19 cases. After all, this is not an embarrassing illness,” he added.
On Saturday afternoon, the Philippines recorded 14,249 new COVID-19 cases, pushing the total to 1,727,231.
Also, fresh infections brought the tally of active cases to 98,847. But recoveries also climbed to 1,598,314 (or 92% survival rate) after 11,714 more patients recovered.
Deaths was at 30,070 (or 0.017%) of the total cumulative tally of COVID-19 cases. —LBG, GMA News