Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon said the worse-than-expected pandemic-induced recession should be an eye-opener for the Inter-Agency Task Force and the country’s economic managers as he underscored the need to revive the demand side of the economy by restoring the people’s confidence in the ability of the government to handle the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Nobody expected it to be this severe. This is the result of the ‘shotgun’ approach in handling COVID-19. This shows the grim reality: gutom ang tao – walang trabaho, walang pera at ubos na ang ipon,” Drilon said in a statement on Thursday.
Drilon noted that the 16.5 percent decline in the country’s GDP is worse than what the government expected it to be, citing Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Benjamin Diokno’s projection of around 5.7 to 6.7 percent decline in the second quarter.
Drilon said this means the Philippines is now in recession following two consecutive declines in our gross domestic product (GDP). The GDP declined further to 16.5% in the second quarter from 0.7% in the first quarter.
The minority leader said that “the government must take swift and decisive actions” within the remaining months of the year to help the poor and revive the demand side of the economy, noting how household consumption in Q2 declined by 15.5%.
“We need to do a second round of social amelioration program. We should expand it but we must retain those families who received the first tranche because they are the ones who are badly hit by the pandemic,” Drilon said.
“There is no sense that they were included in the first tranche but were delisted in the second tranche. Their lives did not become better after receiving the first tranche. They are the ones who continue to experience hunger every day. The government should provide for them until the pandemic is over,” Drilon underscored.
He said there is a need to increase the stimulus fund under the Bayanihan 2. The House of Representatives passed the measure on second reading yesterday containing a P162 billion-stimulus fund.
Drilon further stressed that the government should take a look at strategies on how to arrest the increasing COVID-19 cases, saying the rising cases shatters people’s confidence.
“The people’s confidence is shattered and the corruption and incompetence issues against government officials playing a key role in the fight against COVID-19 pandemic make things even worse,” Drilon stressed.
“The key is to revive demand but that will only happen when the people feel safe to go out. People will feel confident when they see that the government is doing the right thing, effective measures are in place and the healthcare system is not collapsing,” he explained.
“Thus, it all boils down to our ability to control the pandemic,” he added./Stacy Ang