As the whole of Luzon heads into an extended lockdown, it’s time to think about job preservation and creation, according to businesswoman Teresita Sy-Coson, vice chair of the country’s largest conglomerate, SM Investments Corp.
Sy-Coson on Saturday appealed to the government to allow all industries, including the transport sector, to resume 50 percent of their operating capacity even as the country remained on tight guard against the new coronavirus disease (Covid-19).
“We appreciate the moves of the government to protect the Filipinos from the onslaught of COVID-19,” Sy-Coson said in a statement.
After the monthlong lockdown of Luzon, which contributes about two-thirds of the country’s economic output, the government has announced the extension of the lockdown by two more weeks, or up to April 30.
In a proposal addressed to the Department of Labor and Employment, Sy-Coson said: “If all the industries can start operating [at a capacity of] 50 percent, including the transport [sector], with all the medical precaution like making test kits more available and disinfecting measures and sanitation safeguards, then we can gradually increase the employment, including [jobs for] the returning OFWs (overseas Filipino workers) who are adding to our number of unemployment.”
She said the private sector would do its part in increasing employment while maintaining other safeguards like social distancing and disinfecting.
“Employment is also the key to the health of their family—by having enough food for their own immunity—and the key to the health of our economy,” Sy-Coson added.
Earlier, a group of prominent economists proposed a shift to “calibrated easing” of the Luzon lockdown, citing the need to prevent further economic damage while still waging a war against COVID-19.
The Foundation for Economic Freedom (FEF) argued that “certain restrictions imposed on the movement of people and commerce are having a harmful effect on people’s livelihoods and ultimately also endanger public health.”
“The calibrated easing of restrictions can be accompanied by specific safeguards and hygienic measures to reduce the risk of spreading the disease while allowing a limited resumption of economic activity,” FEF said.
The calibrated easing was proposed with 18 conditions, including the following:
• Require social distancing and the use of face masks for everybody.
• Allow public transport, but with disinfection measures before and after every trip. Remove checkpoints between local government and allow free movement of all goods with disinfection measures before and after every trip.
• Prohibit car-sharing except for passengers from the same origin. Encourage work-from-home arrangements and staggered working hours.
• Sustain hard lockdown for certain barangays or neighborhoods identified as COVID-19 hotspots. Continue the quarantine of seniors and immune-compromised individuals. Continue the ban on mass gatherings, including classes, religious or public events.
• Allow factories and offices to reopen but continue the ban on congregations of more than 10. Stagger working hours when appropriate. Allow the operation of essential stores like hardware stores, supermarkets, groceries and the like.
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