Press Release
July 1, 2020

Drilon agrees with Dominguez: 'It's time to ease restrictions in Metro Manila, other regional economic powerhouses'

Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon supported Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III's recommendation to loosen quarantine restrictions in Metro Manila and other economic centers including Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, and Quezon) in order to rebuild the economy that was heavily affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

"I support Secretary Dominguez's call to ease restrictions in the National Capital Region and Calabarzon and put them under the modified general community quarantine," Drilon said in a statement Wednesday.

"I'm afraid that any further delay in the easing of quarantine restrictions in these two economic centers will cause further damage to our economy and our people who have lost their livelihood," Drilon stressed.

"The full opening of the economy in the country's economy centers and the country's seat of power, Metro Manila, is vital in our goal to revive the economy and provide jobs for our displaced workers," he added.

Drilon said that Metro Manila and Calabarzon are among the top two contributors to the national economy, adding that half of the country's manufacturing special economic zones are located in Region IV-A.

Dominguez, in his briefing with the President Tuesday night, said that the two regions made up 67 percent of the country's economy.

"The sooner we can bring back normalcy in these two regions the better chance we have of rebuilding our economy," he said further noting that based on the projection of the National Economic Development Authority, the Philippine economy is likely to contract by 4.3% to 4% by the end of 2020.

The British banking giant HSBC projected a full year contraction rate of 3.85%, Drilon noted. The minority leader also said that the government should avoid the shotgun approach to the pandemic, saying "it did did little to contain the virus." The number of cases in the country hit 36,438 as of June 30.

The World Health Organization recently cited the Philippine as the fastest in terms of infection rate in Western Pacific despite imposing the longest lockdown among countries affected by the pandemic, he noted.

"What we see today is a shotgun approach to the pandemic, not an overall plan," Drilon said.

"It did nothing to contain the virus but only created fear among Filipinos and put the once strong and resilient Philippine economy to complete standstill," he said.

Drilon said he agreed with observations of experts that the economic damage of COVID-19 could have been avoided or minimized if the government did not implement aggressive lockdowns and harsh quarantine measures.

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas recorded lower net foreign direct investments (FDI) in the first three months of 2020 of $1.669 billion from $1.945 billion in the same period last year, Drilon said.

"COVID-19 pandemic is principally a health issue, not simply a question of law and order. The three Ts in the fight against covid 19 - testing, tracking and treatment - should be strengthened," Drilon stressed.

"Where are we in terms of the three Ts? No one has heard of a coordinated overall plan," he added.

"Why are our neighbors Vietnam, Singapore, Taiwan and South Korea succeeding in this fight, and we are not?" Drilon asked.

Drilon added that the credibility of the government's response to the pandemic has greatly been affected by the controversies involving Health Secretary Franscico Duque III, who no longer enjoys the trust of the people, not even the DOH bureaucracy. He said Duque, at the forefront of the campaign, remains a major stumbling block in the fight against COVID-19.

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