The National Economic Development Authority proposed to place the entire Philippines under the least stringent modified general community quarantine starting March 1 to balance the Filipinos need to start earning and spending and the country's response to stop the spread of COVID-19.
NEDA Director-General Karl Chua said that placing the entire country under MGCQ was one of the several measures approved by the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases. NEDA has submitted the proposal to President Rodrigo Duterte and is waiting for his approval.
“Kailangan po nating mag-shift sa lalong madaling panahon sa MGCQ for the entire Philippines, sana starting March 1, 2021 para i-address po ‘yong hunger o yung mataas na antas ng mga Pilipinong nagugutom,” Chua said in Duterte's weekly televised briefing.
("Hopefully, starting March 1, the entire Philippines will be placed under MGCQ. We need to shift to a more lenient community quarantine level to address the rising number of hungry Filipinos.)
Chua said the country incurred a P1.04 trillion income loss in 2020 or P2.8 billion per day due to the quarantine restrictions since March 2020.
On average, he said the annual income loss per worker was P23,000.
“Ang recommendation po namin, dapat ibalanse natin. Di naman po natin sinasabi na ibukas lang po natin ang ekonomiya at ‘wag na nating pakielaman ‘yong COVID-19 cases," Chua said.
(" We only recommend that we balance the situation. We're not saying that we should open the economy and simply ignore the COVID-19 cases")
"Kailangan po natin both at nakita po natin, nagbukas po tayo last October at dumaan po ang Christmas vacation, ‘di naman po umakyat ang COVID cases,” he added.
(" We need both to work. We saw that there was no rise in COVID-19 cases even though we opened the economy last October even Christmas Vacation has also passed with ease.")
The research group OCTA said there was no spike of COVID-19 cases even after the Christmas holidays and the Feast of the Black Nazarene in Quiapo.
To address the local spread of the virus, Chua said to use localized lockdowns in the barangay or municipal level.
“The main reason po is gusto na nating ma-mitigate o mabawasan ‘yong sickness, hunger, poverty, job and income loss that are arising from non-COVID cases,” Chua said.
("We wish to mitigate the sickness, hunger, poverty, job and income loss that are arising from non-COVID cases. That's the main reason why we wrote the proposal.")
The other proposals that the NEDA suggested and that the IATF approved for Duterte's considerations include:
- increasing the capacity allowed in public transport from 50 percent to 75 percent;
- complimenting public transport with active transport via bike lanes;
- allowing more provincial buses to operate;
- expanding the age groups allowed to leave their homes from 15 to 65, to five to 70; and
- resuming the pilot-testing of face-to-face classes.
Chua added, that expanding the public transport from 50% to 75% capacity would result in more people being able to return to work.
“To compliment public transport with active transport support tulad ng bike lanes kasi marami na pong Pilipino ang nag-shift to biking to work or to avail of their basic commodities when they buy goods,” Chua said.
("To compliment public transport with active transport support like bike lanes, since many Filipinos shift to biking recently to work or to avail of their basic commodities when they buy goods")
He also said, due to the enhanced community quarantine, many workers who returned to the province weren't able to come back to work because of the lack of transportation. That's why there is a need to increase inter-province bus operations.
Chua also proposed to the President to expand the age group of those who are allowed to go out and suggested the age group should be from 5 to 70 years old. He also asked to approve face to face schooling in low-risk areas.
“Puwede nating gawing dahan-dahan with appropriate safeguards. Puwede lang lumabas ang kabataan with their parents or they can go out to open areas,” Chua said.
("This can be done slowly with appropriate safeguards. Children can only be allowed to go out if they are with their parents or if they go out to open areas")
“Kung puwede pong lumabas ang kabataan with safeguards, it will allow their parents to work,” he added.
(If the youth are allowed to go out with proper safeguards, it will allow their parents to work)