President Rodrigo Duterte has warned against the country’s full reopening of the economy as the Philippines is still “grappling” with the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
At a briefing with Cabinet officials in Davao City on Tuesday, Duterte said a developing country like the Philippines cannot afford a “pandemonium.”
“Because if you open the entire Philippines and thousands upon thousands of new cases would happen, then we are in deep shit. Talagang mahirapan tayo. Unang-una wala tayong pera,” Duterte said in a pre-recorded address aired early Wednesday.
“Tayo hong pobre we cannot afford really a total epidemic or pandemonium. Mahirap tayo hindi tayo puwedeng sumugal. I cannot follow the example of other countries because as the experience has shown as of now, there were a lot of countries also opening up,” Duterte said.
He defended the gradual easing of restrictions, arguing the number of people allowed to leave their homes is still within the “manageable” level.
“We are still grappling with the first wave,” he said. “We have to be very circumspect in reopening the economy. Dahan-dahan lang.”
Earlier, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said the country’s economic centers—Metro Manila and Calabarzon—should soon be placed under the more lenient modified general community quarantine “as quickly as possible” to boost the economy amid the pandemic.
Dominguez also called for a targeted lockdown of barangays and companies where there was a high number of coronavirus infections.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque has said that the Philippines had to partially reopen the economy or people would have died due to lack of livelihood.
Roque said the country’s healthcare system has enough critical care resources and that the majority of the cases were mild or asymptomatic.
“Ang balita po natin talaga is tumataas ang kaso, ito po ay expected habang walang bakuna. Pinaghandaan po natin ‘to, sapat-sapat po ang ating mga kama para sa mga magkakasakit,” Roque said during the briefing with the President on Tuesday.
“Pero dahil mayroon tayong sandata laban sa COVID-19, pupuwede na natin buksan ang ekonomiya at magkaroon ng hanapbuhay ang lahat.”/Stacy Ang