MANILA – Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said the country will not be stagnant in the current economic situation even if President Rodrigo Duterte expects the way of living before the pandemic will be back by 2023.
Lopez said as Filipinos learn how to deal with the virus, some sectors of the economy will be able to gradually reopen even with the current quarantine restrictions.
“So hindi ibig sabihin na parati tayong naka ganitong situation up to two years from now (So that does not mean that we are always in this situation up to two years from now),” he said during the Laging Handa public briefing Monday.
Lopez said it is possible the economy could go back to its pre-pandemic level earlier than 2023.
“Will do our best, through other economic reforms and programs,” he said in a Viber message to reporters.
Lopez also refuted that the government is becoming “reckless” in pushing for reopening of more economic activities and relaxing some restrictions despite the increasing number of Covid-19 cases in some parts of the country, as well as the threats of new variants of the coronavirus.
He added since the gradual and calibrated reopening in August, no surge in Covid-19 cases was recorded.
Cases also declined from 4,000-level a day to 2,000 and below 2,000-level.
Lopez said this proves that the government has a “good formula” in gradual reopening of economic activities and the Covid-19 cases were well managed.
The Trade chief also welcomed the statement of Duterte to place the entire country under the least restrictive modified general community quarantine once Covid-19 vaccines are “available to anybody”.
“Kung nakita ko na marami nang vaccine, open ko na lahat (If I see that there are a lot of vaccines, I’ll open everything)… People have to eat, people have to work, people have to pay for their upkeep and the only way to do it is to open the economy and for businesses to regrow. Without that, patay talaga (we’re dead),” Duterte said Sunday.
Lopez added with the start of the Covid-19 vaccine rollout Monday, this “can only bring heightened optimism” among Filipinos to bring life back to normal.(PNA)