EDITORIAL - A tough decision but the right one
(The Freeman) - July 10, 2020 - 12:00am

Even as many areas in the country are falling under less-restrictive quarantine measures, President Rodrigo Duterte said he is not in a rush to totally reopen the economy.

“If you open the entire Philippines and thousands upon thousands of new cases happen, then we are in deep (expletive). It would really be difficult for us. First, we do not have money… Poor countries like us… cannot (really afford) a total epidemic or pandemonium. We are poor and we cannot afford to gamble,” he is quoted as saying in a Philstar.com report.

No doubt this decision was not easy to reach. For the longest time our leaders have been torn between “buhay o hanapbuhay” (life or livelihood) or in Bisaya “kinabuhi o panginabuhi”.

The government wants the people to stay in their homes and avoid going to their jobs or business to keep them safe from the virus. However, if people are also kept away too long from those same jobs or businesses, they are also going to die of hunger and other causes. It’s a damned-if-you-do and damned-if-you-don’t scenario.

Did he make the right choice? Under the current circumstances, we believe he did.

Of course, this is very easy to challenge. Because one part of the truth is that the economy really needs to be jump-started again. Many people need to get back to work to provide for themselves and their families. Many businesses need to earn profit again for the months when they didn’t have earnings but had to pay for overhead or operating costs. And we certainly need those foreign tourists back here again.

However, the other part of the truth is that prematurely resuming economic activities will result in a spike in new infections. It has happened in developed countries that opened too soon; look at what happened in Japan, Korea, and Singapore.

It has also happened in every state in the US that did the same thing. As a result, many of those states that prematurely reopened have decided to close again.

We are barely able to handle the number of COVID-19 patients we have right now. Imagine how we will deal with even more drastic spikes in COVID-19 infections if the economy is reopened prematurely.

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