MANILA – Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III cited the need to allow the economy to continue opening up to allow the people to “get back on their feet” and regain what was lost during the community quarantine amid the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.
During the televised public address of President Rodrigo Duterte Tuesday night, Dominguez said the people and the government have to face the new reality that the Covid-19 will not be addressed unless a vaccine has been produced.
“We really should begin opening,” he said, citing the National Capital Region (NCR) and the Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, and Quezon (Calabarzon) account for about 60 or 67 percent of the annual output.
“That should move more to the MGCQ (modified general community quarantine) as quickly as possible because people have to start working,” he added.
In case there is a rise of Covid-19 cases in some areas, Dominguez said any quarantine should be made on a case-to-case basis or a company-to-company basis so as not to affect a large area.
Luzon was placed under an enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in the middle of March until the middle of May while Metro Manila until the end of May, to contain the rise of Covid-19 infections.
To date, the NCR is under general community quarantine (GCQ), which allows more workers to be out of their residences.
In a virtual media briefing Wednesday, Dominguez said the various levels of community quarantines are being implemented to contain the virus’ spread and allow the economy to function even on a limited basis compared to a few months ago.
He said the Department of Health (DOH) has “some sort of achievements” by bringing the Covid-19 death rates and the rate of rising infections to lower levels.
These developments, he said, provide a leeway for people to get back to their previous lives but they should also make sure that health protocols are being met so their savings if they still have, will not be depleted.
“We mentioned that to the AITF (Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases) as well as the President. If your savings are depleted, how can you address other diseases? So we should begin opening up,” he said.
Meanwhile, Dominguez and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) chief representative Eigo Azukizawa signed on Wednesday the JPY 50-billion (PHP23.5 billion) Covid-19 Crisis Response Emergency Support Loan at the Department of Finance (DOF) office in Manila.
Dominguez said the loan will be used for general government operations to augment revenues, which have been affected by the impact of the pandemic.
He said Japan accounts for nearly over 40 percent of Philippines foreign fund sources.
Dominguez, however, said domestic borrowing remains the primary source of government’s borrowing activities at around 75 percent.
Finance Undersecretary Mark Joven said foreign borrowings for this year were programmed to be around USD8.6 billion.
To date, the government has sourced nearly USD5 billion from these. (PNA)