Business tycoons propose modified quarantine
Iris Gonzales (The Philippine Star) - April 1, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Some of the country’s tycoons are proposing a modified community quarantine after the end of the current Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine.

They also proposed measures to help avert economic collapse, noting that a floundering economy would be just as dangerous as the coronavirus disease 2019 or COVID-19 pandemic itself.

Adopting a modified community quarantine from the current enhanced community quarantine is among the measures that came up during the first teleconference of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) with some of the country’s most influential businessmen.

Among the business leaders present during the March 29 meeting were presidential adviser for entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion, Ayala chairman Jaime Zobel de Ayala, the Sy Group’s Hans Sy, Alliance Global Group CEO Kevin Tan, Gokongwei Group’s Lance Gokongwei, LT Group president and COO Michael Tan, Bounty Fresh’s Tennyson Chen and Philippine Chamber of Commerce Inc.’s George Barcelon and Sergio Ortiz-Luiz.

During the meeting, some of those present said another enhanced Luzon-wide lockdown could be more damaging and instead moved for a modified community or a barangay-based quarantine.

Manufacturing and public transportation should resume, the businessmen said.

They also proposed to eliminate checkpoints, but maintain safeguards to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

Concepcion confirmed the meeting, saying that it was to discuss a “post-lockdown scenario.”

As it is now, Concepcion already sees business revenues going down 40 percent this year, with demand likely to drop 30 percent.

“The goal is while we have to guard against the virus, we have to start reviving the economy,” Concepcion said.

He said that it is equally dangerous if the economy collapses.

Zobel shared the same sentiment, saying “we need to avoid an economic collapse.”

Moving forward, Zobel also proposed to eliminate the checkpoint system to allow the free movement of goods, suppliers and manpower, and to consider partial operations of public transportation.

The tycoons also agreed to continue with the social distancing measures.

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, IATF spokesman, said a modified community quarantine may indeed be adopted wherein checkpoints may be eliminated and limited public transportation may resume and malls would remain closed.

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez, who was part of the meeting, said the government needs to continue collecting taxes to be able to fund the stimulus programs.

A tycoon present during the meeting said some of the suggestions may be adopted, while alternatives may be considered for those that do not align with President Duterte’s directives.

The National Economic and Development Authority, led by Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia, will spearhead the “forward planning” post-lockdown, participants of the meeting also agreed.

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