'Calibrated easing' of COVID-19 lockdown pushed

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 29 2020 07:02 PM

Vehicles pass through a special lane for cargo deliveries of basic goods in a checkpoint along the North Luzon Expressway during the enhanced community quarantine of Luzon on March 19, 2020. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - The government should consider a "calibrated easing" of the enhanced community quarantine over Luzon because the Philippine economy cannot afford an extension of the lockdown, the head of a foundation backed by the country's biggest business groups said on Sunday.

The economy has already taken a "big hit" from the lockdown so far, said Guillermo Luz, chief resilience officer of the Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation (PDRF).

"So extending it in its current fashion will provide an even bigger hit to the economy and I don’t think we can afford that," Luz said in an interview with ANC.

Luz said instead of extending the enhanced community quarantine, the government should look at "how to have a calibrated lifting or easing of the quarantine to make sure that we get some economic movement going."

He said this means "not letting everybody off quarantine right way" especially vulnerable groups like the elderly and those with preexisting medical conditions.

Industries, especially those in manufacturing, agriculture and food supply logistics, meanwhile will continue to be allowed to function, Luz said.

PDRF is aiming to distribute P1.5 billion worth of groceries and grocery gift cheques to around 1.5 million poor families in Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal, Luz added.

The foundation has so far distributed gift cheques worth P1,000 each to around 265,000 families.

"We're looking at areas in the provinces where urban poor and squatter resettlement sites do not have supermarkets nearby so we’re figuring out a way to get actual physical food packs to them."

Some of PDRF's donors include conglomerates such as the Aboitiz, Ayala, Jollibee, Metro Pacific and San Miguel groups.