Research foundation calls shift to MGCQ 'a short-sighted, desperate move'

enablePagination: false
maxItemsPerPage: 10
maxPaginationLinks: 10

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 18) — Placing the whole country under the most relaxed quarantine classification is a "short-sighted and desperate move" amid continuous spread of the coronavirus, socioeconomic research group IBON Foundation says.

In a statement on Thursday, the group said “easing restrictions will not spur [economic] recovery without a real fiscal stimulus while risking the more rapid spread of COVID-19.”

The group was reacting to an earlier proposal from Acting Socioeconomic Planning chief Karl Chua for the easing of pandemic-related restrictions to modified general community quarantine over the entire country starting March, citing the country’s need to recover from huge economic losses. Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez has also aired hopes for more relaxed restrictions to help restore up to 1.6 million jobs that disappeared during the recent months' lockdowns.

RELATED: Metro Manila mayors recommend shift to MGCQ by March

IBON said the government needs to implement improved pandemic response, including better testing, more aggressive contact tracing, selective quarantines of possible cases, and speedy isolation of confirmed cases, instead of relying to community restrictions. Without these, easing restrictions would lead to more infections, it added.

After citing a need for the government to "contain the pandemic better," IBON argued that the state has to spend more to help households and small businesses cope with record jobs and income losses and to recover from the economic shock.

The group also said that the shift to modified general community quarantine may not even spur recovery without a real fiscal stimulus. It said that significantly higher level of public spending is needed to make up the “lockdown-driven collapse” of consumption and investment.

IBON also proposed several interventions to address people’s needs and boost the economy, which include among others emergency wage relief, financial assistance for informal earners, and production support for farmers and fisherfolk.

The Department of Health has reported that total COVID-19 cases in the country have breached 553,000 as of Wednesday, with 11,577 deaths and 512,033 recoveries.