Amid pandemic, PH joins countries with sinking economies — Duterte
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has admitted that the country’s economy is in shambles, and is “sinking deeper and deeper” amid the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on livelihood and businesses.
In his pre-recorded briefing on Monday, Duterte however said the Philippines is not alone in this situation, as other countries are also experiencing economic problems due to enforced lockdowns.
When Luzon and other areas in the country went into a strict lockdown last March 2020, businesses that are not considered essential establishments were forced to close down. This left workers, especially those who rely on daily wages and income, without any income through the quarantine periods.
“You know, the world and the economy is run by oil, gas. Kung hindi natin patakbuhin ‘yang mga cargo trucks, mga ano d’yan, mawala na. So we are sinking deeper and deeper, pero hindi lang rin tayo. Lahat, pero we are trying our very best to keep us afloat,” Duterte said in his public address.
(“You know, the world and the economy is run by oil, gas. If we would not allow the cargo trucks to operate, the economy would stall. So we are sinking deeper and deeper, but it’s not only us. All economies are down, but we are trying our very best to keep us afloat.)
“Ang ekonomiya natin mga kababayan ko is masama talaga. Biro mo naman ilang tao ang walang trabaho, the economy of the Philippines is really in bad shape. But as I have said, it is not only the Philippines who suffers, we and the world are suffering with everybody,” he added.
(The economy, my countrymen, is really bad. Imagine, a lot of people have no jobs, then the economy of the Philippines is really in bad shape. But as I have said, it is not only the Philippines who suffers, we and the world are suffering with everybody.)
Duterte’s statement came days after official economic numbers for 2020 showed that the country has registered the worst economic contraction since World War II, with the gross domestic product (GDP) shrinking by 9.5 percent. It is also the largest contraction recorded ever since the country’s statisticians took note of GDP numbers.
In the Asean region, the Philippines is slated to make one of the slowest economic recoveries from the pandemic, lagging behind other countries that have addressed the health crisis more properly.
Duterte said that had the pandemic not happen, the Philippines would have fared better now as the economy was doing fine back then.
“Alam mo, lahat ng bayan ngayon ng buong mundo, bagksak. Talagang bagsak. Tayo, maganda na sana no’ng hindi dumating ‘yong Covid, we were doing fine […] tapos dumating ‘yong Covid, walang kita. Ngayon mababa na ang value ng GDP natin,” Duterte said.
(You know, all economies of the world are down. Really down. For us, we have been doing good if Covid-19 did not come to us, we were doing fine back then. Then COVID-19 arrived, then we have no income. That’s why our GDP value is very low.)
“According to the Secretary of Finance, araw-araw ngayon hanggang matapos itong Covid we are losing P2 billion na pera para sana ‘yon sa mga tao, the Filipino workers would have earned that money kung ang ekonomiya natin gumagalaw,” he added.
(According to the Secretary of Finance, every day until the end of this pandemic we are losing P2 billion worth of money that could have been for the public, the Filipino workers would have earned that money if our economy is moving.)
The administration has garnered criticism for its pandemic response, with Vice President Leni Robredo citing data from independent studies that reported on the Philippines’ poor response performance.
According to the Australian initiative Lowy Institute, the Philippines lags behind other countries even those in Asean in terms of Covid-19 response, ranking just 79th out of 98 countries observed.
Robredo previously called for a change in policies being used and for adjustments about the government’s strategy with the pandemic response. She also noted that these things — including being transparent with the Covid-19 response — would spur faster economic recovery, as people’s trust in vaccines will be regained.
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