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Business leaders want shift to barangay level quarantine; allow manufacturing, construction, agri to operate — Duterte adviser

The Office of the Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship is proposing a shift to selective quarantine at the barangay level and the resumption of all manufacturing, construction, and agriculture operations when the Luzon-wide enhanced community expires April 13.

In a letter to Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia, Presidential Adviser Joey Concepcion said the recommendations were gathered from the exchanges between “over 60 business leaders and associations heads” and six government officials namely; Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, Chief Implementer Carlito Galvez, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, Agriculture Secretary William Dar, Science and Technology Secretary Fortunato dela Peña, and Communications Secretary Martina Andanar during a video call meeting on March 29, 2020.



Among the specific inputs from the business community is to “simplify selective quarantine rules that the barangays with COVID cases can uniformly implement so as to avoid confusion and make it easy for everyone to follow.”

“Replace checkpoint system with barangay-level implementation of selective quarantine with confirmed cases, strict social distancing and sanitation guidelines that are consistent with national guidelines with Mayor’s oversight,” the letter read.

“Ensure the flow of agricultural inputs and outputs through inter-barangay coordination so sufficient volume of goods will reach urban centers and quarantined zones for timely distribution,” it added.

Businesses also want to “allow manufacturing, construction, and agriculture to operate based on demand.”

All sectors are still encouraged to implement work-from-home arrangements but businesses recommend to “permit physical work in the largest employment groups such as construction, non-food manufacturing, energy infrastructure, and government.”

“Ensure the flow of all cargo from ‘essential manufacturing’ and ‘essential infrastructure’ activities such as semiconductor facilities and BPO services, as well as agricultural activities (including raw material inputs, storage, distribution, etc.) with crucial inputs to food sustainability and the global supply chain, including that of solving the COVID-19 crisis,” the letter read.

Business, likewise, suggested to move cash payments to digital options to minimize handling of physical money that may transmit the virus.

Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez earlier pushed for the “gradual lifting” of the enhanced community quarantine, in favor of essential businesses and their supply chain. 

The Trade chief noted that mass gatherings and crowded places shall remain closed.

Businesses, similarly, opposed allowing large gatherings such as masses, events, meetings, schools, malls, and other areas where people can congregate.

This measure is aimed at preventing possible local transmission of the disease.

The sick, pregnant, and non-earners shall be kept off the streets as well.

The presidential adviser also noted that businesses are suggesting to allow reduced public transportation or open contained services in business areas to facilitate movement of workers who need to be physically present in their respective workplaces.

“Allow private vehicles, bicycle programs and certain types of vehicles consistent with social distancing,” the letter read.

Businesses also recommend to continue restrictions of flights in and out of National Capital Region to limit the critical area within Luzon. — RSJ, GMA News