THAT DOES IT - Korina Sanchez (The Freeman) - March 4, 2020 - 12:00am

The economy is on a downturn with many hit by the hard times. Most recently, the top officials of Honda Cars Philippines Inc. (HCPI) announced via a video message that the plant in Laguna will cease operations. The reason is that the plant's capability to produce cars is not being met. Only 8,000 vehicles are completed in one year as opposed to the projected 15,000 car capability. The company saw it fit to just relocate and consolidate. More than 300 employees will be out of work but the severance package offered by HCPI has been accepted. These are the more fortunate employees. Have car sales slowed down since the implementation of this administration's excise tax? Is this the real reason for the closure?

Another company in the red is Philippine Airlines (PAL). In fact, PAL has been losing profits for the past years, further complicated by the Hong Kong protests followed by COVID-19 scare. Flights to and from Hong Kong, Macau, and China have all been suspended aside from government travel bans. PAL had no choice but to let go of around 300 ground employees to keep the company running by "reducing costs and increasing revenues". Such is the situation under a COVID-19-held economy. Oil prices are also falling as OPEC meets to stem the slide brought about by the reduction in air travel.

Cathay Pacific first took action when it told its 27,000 employees to take a three-week unpaid leave from March until June also to streamline operations and keep the company afloat. Who would have thought something like this would happen to an airline like Cathay Pacific? The loss of passengers and revenue to the protests and the virus have led to the unfortunate announcement. Nothing pleasant about losing a job. Last Monday, a disgruntled security guard held hostage, several people, in a mall in Greenhills. One person was shot but is recovering in a hospital. After several hours of negotiations, the hostages were released and the hostage-taker subdued. Thankfully no one else was hurt.

Someone questioned the reaction to the COVID-19 virus when tuberculosis (TB) is more widespread and prevalent in the country. Are countries reacting to a spread in TB? As far as I know, TB can be treated with medicine while the COVID-19 virus has no available vaccine or medicine. It is far more difficult to fight a virus than a bacteria. As China is thankfully seeing a waning of the number of new cases, the rest of the whole sees the opposite. The World Health Organization (WHO) describes it as "uncharted territory". We obviously have an epidemic but the WHO is short of calling it a pandemic. While the numbers have definitely overtaken that of SARS, we can't do anything but weather out this infection.

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