Press Release
February 2, 2021

PHL 'sinking' economy can create more serious problems, Drilon warns

Failure to address the Philippine's "sinking" economy immediately could create more serious consequences, including increase in crimes, extreme poverty, hunger, joblessness, Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon warned on Tuesday, as he called on the government economic managers to lay down a comprehensive and realistic plan to address the weakening economy.

Drilon likewise urged the Duterte administration's economic managers to throw a lifeline to the poor and the most vulnerable sectors amid these trying times.

"I agree with the President. That Philippine economy is 'sinking and sinking.' It is a grim reality that we have to face. I am extremely alarmed by the continued decline of our economy and the rising inflation. Let us face it as a nation," Drilon said in a statement Tuesday.

On Monday night, the President said that the Philippines is "sinking deeper and deeper" and is losing P2 billion a day due to COVID-19.

The Philippine economy suffered a worst economic contraction post World War II of 9.5 percent in 2020 due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Inflation in the country continues to rise, which was further aggravated by the typhoons that hit the country in the last quarter of 2020, Drilon noted.

"The question now is, what do our economic managers plan to do? The people would want to see a clear plan to address our worsening economic situation," Drilon said.

"I call for a unified approach to address the worsening economic condition of the country," he stressed.

"Failure to address it will create more serious problems: high crimes, extreme poverty, hunger, and joblessness," Drilon said.

The Senate chief fiscalizer said that "the primary concern should be to protect the poorest and the most vulnerable sectors of the economy."

"We must throw a lifeline to the poor who are having difficulties coping with the effects of the pandemic and inflation. Unfortunately, the 2021 national budget provides too little for the poor," Drilon said.

Drilon also pointed to the need for the government to improve its COVID-19 pandemic response, citing the findings of Australia-based think tank Lowy Institute that ranked the Philippines 79th out of 98 countries in terms of ability to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.

"We must work on increasing the people's confidence in the government's Covid-19 vaccination program. Again, our ability to win the fight against the pandemic largely depends on the success of our vaccination program. The sooner we are able to implement a successful COVID-19 vaccination drive, the faster our economic recovery would be," Drilon said.

Further, Drilon urged the government to be more aggressive in addressing red tape and corruption in the country, citing a decline in the latest Corruption Perception Index wherein the Philippines slipped down to 115th place while retaining its poor score of 34, with 100 points being the best.

Drilon said that Congress, for its part, should give top priority to measures that will aid the government in handling the pandemic, provide for fast economic recovery and institute fiscal discipline.

"Congress should devote its limited calendar days to legislation that will directly benefit the economy and uplift the lives of the Filipino people. Because if Congress fails to address these urgent problems in the remaining months of the second regular session, then it will be harder to attend to these when election season kicks in," Drilon said.

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