Economy recovering from COVID-19 scourge – DOF chief
Meeting with President Duterte at Malacañang last Monday, Dominguez remained optimistic that the opening up of the economy is setting the country back on track toward growth and development.
Miguel De Guzman, file

Economy recovering from COVID-19 scourge – DOF chief

Christina Mendez (The Philippine Star) - November 12, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The economy is on its way to recovery from the scourge of the pandemic and its contraction of 11.5 percent in the third quarter is a welcome improvement, according to Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III.

Meeting with President Duterte at Malacañang last Monday, Dominguez remained optimistic that the opening up of the economy is setting the country back on track toward growth and development.

Dominguez gave the positive outlook at the same meeting where the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) provided updates on the COVID-19 situation in the country.

“Our experience with COVID-19 over the past several months tells us two things. First, the economy is strong enough to recover if we enable it to do so. Second, our best recourse is to help the economy – to help the economy is to manage the risks,” he said.

Dominguez discussed how the government’s strategy to manage the risks has improved the state of the economy, which contracted to about 11.5 percent during the third quarter. In the previous quarter, the country recorded a 16.5 percent contraction.

Noting the impact of the pandemic on the contraction of the economy, he said the third quarter of 2020 “saw the country dance with the virus: two steps forward and one step backward.”

“Managing the risks instead of avoiding them will allow us to safely open more of the economy and help Filipinos recover their sources of income,” Dominguez said.

“This will also put the Philippines back on its solid growth and development trajectory,” he added.

COVID-19 response

In August, Dominguez noted how the National Capital Region and neighboring provinces reverted to modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) status for two weeks to respond to the increase in COVID-19 cases and to help prepare the hospitals’ critical care units.

Earlier in June and July, Cebu City also reverted to enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) and then MECQ to improve its health system. Several other local government units also went back to the more stringent quarantines to save lives, the finance chief said.

“These actions gave us time to expand our capacity to deal with this contagion. From zero capacity in February, daily testing reached 111,600 on Nov. 4 with 160 labs providing RT-PCR testing, while daily testing reached a peak of 46,597 on Sept. 11,” Dominguez said.

He noted how the quarantine period allowed the government and concerned sectors “to wisely boost our capacity to treat those requiring hospitalization.”

As of Nov. 4, there are 21,909 hospital beds dedicated to COVID-19 cases throughout the country and only about 39 percent of these are occupied. This means that the country is more than capable of caring for COVID-19 patients, he said.

Pinoy resilience

Apart from government efforts, Dominguez underscored the resilience of Filipinos as a nation, which helped greatly in the ability of the country to rise above the challenges brought about by the pandemic.

“However, these concerted efforts did not come without a cost,” he said. “We are aware of and are thankful for the many sacrifices the Filipino people have to make. From mothers who juggle their work while helping their children study remotely to healthcare workers in testing centers and in hospitals who risk their lives to detect the virus and care for the very sick. Some of them are family members and close friends.”

Dominguez again echoed the need for the people’s cooperation to continue following the health protocols to ensure the country’s complete recovery.

“A major part of our success in controlling virus transmission is the cooperation of people in making minimum health standards as part of their daily lives. All these small contributions go a long way in our recovery process,” he said.

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