Lawmakers call for ‘resilience plan’ to offset effects of COVID-19, company closures

27-Feb-2020 Intellasia | PhilStar | 6:02 AM Print This Post

Two lawmakers on Wednesday cast fear over the possible effects of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) on the country’s economy, urging the importance of projects to alleviate the virus’ impact.

Sen. Sonny Angara, in a statement published on Wednesday, bared the urgent need for the government to craft a “resilience plan” to address the COVID-19 pandemic along with the shutdown of companies in the country including Honda Cars Philippines Inc., Wells Fargo and Nokia.

Later that day, Malacanang also confirmed that a ban would be imposed on travellers coming from the North Gyeongsang province of South Korea marking the latest ban caused by the COVID-19 scare after President Rodrigo Duterte extended his earlier travel ban to include all of mainland China along with special administrative regions Hong Kong and Macau.

The initial travel ban only included the Hubei province of China, where Wuhan, the epicenter of COVID-19, was located. Duterte initially opposed the idea of a ban on China, saying this could adversely damage diplomatic relations.

South Korea is among the country’s largest source of tourists.

“The epidemic, especially the travel ban imposed by the Philippine government, would inevitably have negative impact on the Philippine economy,” Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian said last week at a forum in Ortigas, Pasig City.

“There is no vaccine yet against the virus. But in terms of protecting our economy, in increasing its defenses, I believe that government must have a contingency plan,” Angara said.For his part, House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano specifically called for the administration’s economic and infrastructure team to expedite the government’s existing infrastructure projects in order to cushion the tourism industry against the effects of the virus scare.

“Yung appeal ko sa economic team at sa infrastructure team, habang ‘yung uncertainty ng COVID-19 nandiyan, at habang maaapektuhan ang international tourism, agahan niyo ang pag-release at pagpapagawa ng infra projects,” said Cayetano in an interview with the Congress media last February 24.

“Kasi ‘pag ‘yan inumpisahan ng November, peak season naman natin ng tourism until December. God willing, after the second half of this year, wala ng COVID-19 or under control na, so dagsa na naman ang tourists. So, in the meantime, itong first two quarters, sana Build, Build, Build tayo.”

In an earlier press briefing in January, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said that the impact of the virus was projected by economists to be short-term.

“So in addition to the agenda of creating more jobs within the next decade, we are now faced with the challenge of protecting jobs within the next weeks or months,” Angara said.

“We have to map out all our underutilised assets and use this as a springboard in prioritising sectors, places and industries that can create wealth using Filipino talent.”

In response to news of the workers displaced by Honda’s closure, the Palace, too, pointed to the infrastructure projects generated by the “Build, Build, Build” programme. Labour groups slammed this pronouncement, saying it downplayed the plight of those possibly losing their livelihood.

On Tuesday, Sen. Joel Villanueva said that the Senate committee on labour and employment, which he chairs, was ready to conduct a probe into the closure of the Honda facility in Sta. Rosa, Laguna. The senator’s office told that the 387 jobs estimated to be lost with the car manufacturing shutdown were based on figures from the Labour department.


Category: Philippines

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