MANILA - Philippine households were among the worst affected by the pandemic in Southeast Asia, a recent survey by the Asian Development Bank showed.
The ADB Institute said it recently did a survey of households in Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam.
Based on the survey, 84 percent of households in the Philippines said their income declined because of the COVID-19 pandemic. This was the worst in the region, followed by Indonesia at 81 percent and Myanmar at 78 percent. The average for the 8 ASEAN countries was 73 percent.
At least one person also became unemployed or had their work hours reduced in 73.5 percent of Philippine households. Again, this was the worst across the countries surveyed. The average for 8 ASEAN countries surveyed was 44 percent.
The state statistics agency said 10 percent or around 4.6 million of adult Filipinos were jobless as of July. An independent survey meanwhile put the jobless rate at a much higher 45.5 percent or around 27.3 million unemployed Filipinos as of July.
The Philippines implemented one of the world’s strictest and longest lockdowns from March to June in an attempt to check the spread of COVID-19. Despite this, the country still ended up with the highest number of confirmed infections in the region as it struggled to ramp up testing and contact-tracing.
“Many governments had very strict measures like lockdowns, but it turned out those across-the-board measures are very counterproductive,” said ADB Institute Dean Tetsushi Sonobe during a virtual conference on the results of the study.
In place of wholesale lockdowns, Sonobe called a more targetted approach to contain the virus.
“There must be more testing, more fine-tuning [of] regulation on containment measures, more granular information area-wise, sector-wise, time-wise, or specific hours of the day, or specific days of the week, depending on the sector, to make the economy more active."
Medium, small and micro enterprises, which are key employers in the Philippines, were the most affected businesses.
Going digital will help MSMEs continue to operate and remain competitive, but this is hampered by internet connectivity issues, an ADB official said.
"Connectivity must be addressed before MSMEs can adopt digital solutions,” said Elaine Tan, Advisor and Head of ADB's Statistics and Data Innovation Unit. --- Report from Warren de Guzman, ABS-CBN News