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After almost seven months under strict lockdown, the Philippines enters Phase 3 of the Duterte Administration’s recovery plan to address the pandemic, National Action Plan Against COVID-19 chief implementer Carlito Galvez Jr. announced.
In a press briefing, he stated, "Phase 3 will be our transition plan to the new normal from the last quarter of this year rolling down the road towards the first quarter of 2021.” He explained that more businesses and enterprises will be allowed to operate and more people to leave their homes.
The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has also released a memorandum announcing that the government is now allowing 17 business sectors to resume full operations. Secretary Ramon Lopez announced that this is an effort to rebuild and return the PH economy to dynamism.
“The need to provide stability for businesses, re-stimulate the economy amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and address the growing number of joblessness, poverty and hunger incidence in the country is increasing," he said.
With the go signal from the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease (IATF-EID), DTI has issued memorandum circular no. 20-52, allowing businesses under the mining, construction, film production, recruitment, and advertising, banking, and retail can “adjust the operating capacity of businesses.”
Strain on GDP Growth
This move was supported by the National Economic and Development Authority as they push for the gradual and calibrated re-opening of the economy. In one of their press releases, the organization has cited a report from the Philippine Statistics Authority that directly correlates stricter lockdowns and sharp contractions in trade performance.
“The August trade performance is a clear indication that gains from reopening the economy can easily be reversed when we impose strict lockdowns that restrict economic activity. We need to keep this in mind if we wish to regain our growth trajectory,” said Acting Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Chua.
Between August 4 to 18, 2020, Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal were placed back under the Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ) as a response to local frontliners who asked for a timeout.
NEDA also reported that every week that Metro Manila is under lockdown, the potential annual GDP growth shaves off 0.10 to 0.28 percentage points.
The University of the Philippines Octa Research Team headed by Dr. Butch Ong has agreed on this track to slowly reopen the economy. However, he reiterated the importance of the strict importance of observing minimum health standards to prevent resurging.
Recovery Roadmap and Continuity Plan
Secretary Galvez said the government is continuously working on awareness campaigns to encourage more Filipinos to slowly adapt to the new normal. “It's important for people to have their awareness of self-protection and health safety. Once the people are aware, they can go out now with confidence that they will not be infected by the virus," Galvez said.
He also clarified that under the recovery roadmap’s Phase 3, the country will no longer be under region-wide lockdowns and modified or enhanced community quarantines. "The massive ECQ is not sustainable. Draconian lockdowns have a negative impact on the economy," he added.