President Rodrigo Roa Duterte is studying the latest recommendation of his Administration’s economic team to further reopen the economy, including the possible placing of the entire Philippines under the modified general community quarantine classification beginning March 1, 2021.
In a press briefing held in Apolinario Mabini Elementary School in Davao City on February 16, Presidential Spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque Jr. said that these recommendations were being proposed to balance the government’s pandemic response to control the spread of the virus while providing Filipinos a chance to have jobs and livelihood.
“Rekomendasyon pa lamang ito. Pinag-aaralan mabuti ng Pangulo ang rekomendasyon na ito. At ang sabi nga niya, nais nyang ito ay mapag-usapan sa susunod na Cabinet meeting sa abente-dos ng buwang ito,” said Secretary Roque.
The Palace official added that part of the recommendations presented to the President to reopen the economy further is to increase the capacity for public transportation from the current 50 percent to 75 percent. “Ito nga po’y importante dahil kung bubuksan pa talaga natin ang ekonomiya, kinakailangan mas maraming transportasyon,” said Secretary Roque.
Other recommendations with regard to public transportation and movement of people include the need to add more bicycle lanes and to allow more provincial buses to operate, Sec. Roque said.
Roque, who is the concurrent spokesperson of the Inter-Agency Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID), added that the lowering of the age restrictions for individuals allowed to go out from the current 15 to 65 years old to five to 70 years old, is included in the proposed recommendations.
“Pinag-aaralan pa po yan. Pero sa ngayon po ang mga mayors ng Metro Manila ay pumayag na na ibaba ang edad na pupwedeng lumabas mula kinse hanggang 65,” Roque remarked.
Last among the recommendations, said Roque, is the resumption of the pilot testing of face-to-face classes that was previously recommended by the Department of Education, which the President decided to postpone the implementation because of the new COVID-19 variant.
“Pero sa tingin ko po alam na natin ang anyo ng bagong variant ngayon, mas nakakahawa pero alam din po natin ang kasagutan sa bagong variant na yan, mas maigting na mask, hugas, at iwas,” stressed Roque.
Secretary Roque highlighted figures that show that there are more people who are being affected by hunger (23.7M), poverty (4.5M), unemployment (2.7M), and deaths from other diseases (480, 338) than those who got sick or died from COVID-19.
“Dahil napatunayan naman ng mga Pilipino sa isang survey po ng OCTA Research, 93 percent po ang sumusunod sa pagsusuot ng masks sa ating mga kababayan, e pinapakita natin na panahon na po siguro talaga na isalba naman natin ang ating mga kababayan sa pagkagutom at sa pagkahirap, at ito po ay dahil sa mga ibang bagay at hindi lamang po COVID,” Roque quipped.
Meanwhile, as part of government’s efforts to ensure the readiness of local government units to receive the COVID-19 vaccines, Roque joined several Cabinet Secretaries and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte during the CODE (Coordinated Operations to Defeat Pandemic) Team visit in Davao City. Present in the said event were national Task Force Against COVID-19 Chief Implementer Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr, Health Secretary Francisco Duque Jr, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, and other government officials.
On the topic of vaccine arrival, Philippine Ambassador to China Jose Santiago “Chito” Sta. Romana assured that China’s commitment to provide COVID vaccines for the Philippines will push through. Ambassador Sta. Romana, who was a resource person in the same press briefing, said that Chinese vaccine makers have ramped up their production and assured that discussions are on-going to ensure the delivery of the first batch of vaccines from China this month of February as initially agreed upon by both parties. ### OPS-PCOO