“Ready or not, I think we should reopen the economy because this time we have to save the livelihoods of many of our MSMEs that are on the brink of great danger at this point in time. It’s our obligation as the private sector to conduct testing, to ensure that if found positive, we will trace, isolate and treat,” said Joey Concepcion.
STAR/ File
Business leaders, ex-health chiefs back GCQ
Louella Desiderio (The Philippine Star) - May 30, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion, Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, chairman and CEO of Ayala Corp. along with former health secretaries Dr. Esperanza Cabral and Rep. Janette Garin, as well as Rep. Sharon Garin back President Duterte’s order to place Metro Manila under general community quarantine (GCQ) starting June 1.

“Ready or not, I think we should reopen the economy because this time we have to save the livelihoods of many of our MSMEs that are on the brink of great danger at this point in time. It’s our obligation as the private sector to conduct testing, to ensure that if found positive, we will trace, isolate and treat,” said Concepcion.

He added that in easing to GCQ there is still a risk of infection, thus everyone must be more vigilant. “A stronger public-private partnership in beating the virus is definitely great news for all our Filipino people. I believe we will prevent reinfection and a second wave. As we reopen the economy, we must remember to do it safely and cautiously. We must use all the tools available to us at the moment to protect the lives and livelihood of our people and to effectively fight COVID-19. Let us not be complacent. The war is still on until we find a cure.”

During Go Negosyo’s Balik-Kabuhayan webinar series yesterday, Ayala also backed the reopening of the economy: “It is a balancing act between the need for the economy to come back to life. It is a period of zero income and there’s only so much that can last without massive economic support from the government. The government has its own limitations to its balance sheet and the like. There is no choice in my mind but to start easing back and following the proper protocols and reentering the economy, in a safe prudent and very cautious way,” Ayala said.

Urging the public and private sector to unite as one amidst the pandemic, Ayala said: “This is the time of national unity, the private sector has to work hand-in-hand with the public sector. There are moments of crisis where you can’t sit back and say ‘it is not our responsibility, it’s yours, we don’t have a role to play.’ I think that is something the PA Joey has always believed, this duality.”

The speakers in the webinar also provided possible recommendations from the medical point of view on how to further improve collective response to combat the virus as the economy is reopened and revived.

“If we don’t reopen, we might be able to prevent a few cases of COVID, but then we will have more of non-COVID illnesses. So this is a balance between the two and this is actually a good part where business sectors come together because aside from putting up additional testing centers, coming up with the recovery livelihood will actually pave the way for people to start taking up their maintenance medication again, for people to have something to spend when it comes to healthcare, because the government cannot fully subsidize COVID and non-COVID illnesses. Reopening the economy actually means taking care of public health,” said Jannette Garin, who also serves as the ARK-PCR private sector chief implementor.

When asked about the ability of the country’s economy to reopen again, Cabral said: “I’d say that we are as ready as we can be to open business again. We have had two months to prepare, I mean the healthcare system. And if we have not prepared over the last months, we will never be prepared. Yes, I think that we are ready to open.” 

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