COVID-19 job losses temporary, Roque says as areas set to move to GCQ

COVID-19 job losses temporary, Roque says as areas set to move to GCQ
In this file photo from May 2020, a worker in Caloocan City takes a quick break.
The STAR / Michael Varcas, file

MANILA, Philippines — Job losses caused by the pandemic are just temporary, presidential spokesman Harry Roque said Tuesday, even as he acknowledged that the displacement of several workers is not a joke.

Adult joblessness rose to a record 45.5% in July from 17.1% percent in December, according to a nationwide poll conducted last month by the Social Weather Stations. The data translated to 27.3 million jobless adults, or persons 18 years old and above, in July.

Roque said many Filipinos would be able to return to work soon because of the easing of lockdown measures.

"We expect the job losses to be temporary because we all know the effect of COVID (coronavirus disease). We will rise again and we will be able to work again," Roque said at a press briefing.

"Now that we are reopening the economy so that many of us can return to work, the threat posed by COVID is bigger but we can overcome it," he added.

RELATED: Lockdowns destroy jobs of 5 million Filipinos in April

Metro Manila, Bulacan, Laguna, Cavite, and Rizal will be placed under the more lenient general community quarantine starting Wednesdayuntil the end of the month as the government tries to revive the pandemic-battered economy while safeguarding public health.

The capital region and the four provinces, which contribue about two thirds of the country's economic output, were placed under a partial lockdown from August 3 to 18 to give the government time to expand its healthcare capacity.

"As we reopen the economy, we have to be stricter in requiring the wearing of masks, social distancing, washing of hands and wearing of face shields in public transportation and workplaces," Roque said.

Roque also walked back a remark last Monday that he was "happy" that the joblessness rate last July was not 100%. The Palace spokesman drew flak for the statement, which has been described by critics as "insensitive," and "revolting."

"Malungkot pong nawalan ng trabaho ang marami sa atin. Hindi po biro talaga yan (It's sad that many of us lost their jobs. It's not a joke)," Roque said.

"What I meant was it could have been worse," he added.

Citing the labor force survey of the Philippine Statistics Authority, the Palace official said the unemployment rate in the Philippines stood at 17.7% in April.

"Whether it (is) 40 plus percent or 17.7%, we are saddened by it," Roque added. 

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