Another strict COVID-19 lockdown may 'destroy' PH, Duterte adviser warns

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 2)— An adviser of President Rodrigo Duterte urged both the public and private sectors to team up in containing the spike in COVID-19 infections, saying the country may not be able to take another round of strict lockdown measures.

"The private sector and the government has to definitely prevent a resurgence that will bring back a second lockdown. A second lockdown will destroy this country, I'm already saying that," Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion told CNN Philippines' The Source on Tuesday.

Concepcion said another strict community quarantine— on top of creating frustration among citizens— will put to waste some of the government's efforts and programs dedicated for the crisis-hit sectors, including the proposed ₱1.3-trillion economic stimulus package.

"Having another lockdown will create frustration, we will also waste the stimulus program that Congress is trying to pass, and all the other supportive programs. So there will be a sense of frustration, and people may lose hope," he added.

The House of Representatives has approved on second reading the proposed Philippine Economic Stimulus Act, which provides for a ₱1.3-trillion recovery plan for those affected by the pandemic. Other priority COVID-19 bills also remain pending before the chamber.

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Some lawmakers have also filed bills that would extend the validity of the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, a measure giving President Rodrigo Duterte additional powers to address the COVID-19 pandemic.

'Create visibility through testing'

The economic adviser, however, acknowledged that the threat of resurgence of COVID-19 cases is always present.

In line with this, he backed calls to "create visibility" by ramping up targeted testing efforts in various sectors, and reiterated pleas for the public to follow proper health protocols such as physical distancing and wearing of protective equipment.

"The urgency, really, in creating visibility and being more vigilant and practicing social distancing and all of that has to really be implemented now," he stressed.

Metro Manila and other areas shifted to a more relaxed general community quarantine on Monday, as the government aims to gradually restart the economy to help workers severely hit by the health crisis.

But even with less strict lockdown measures, government and health officials have repeatedly cautioned citizens to follow health guidelines, with Duterte himself warning of a possible return of an enhanced community quarantine should infections continue to surge.

To date, the Philippines has logged over 18,000 cases of the infectious disease.