Latest lockdowns dampen hopes for Philippine economic recovery

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  • A new lockdown has begun in Metro Manila, Laguna, Cavite, Rizal, and Bulacan amid rising cases of COVID-19 in the Philippines.

    The lockdowns are seen to dampen hopes of economic recovery in the country.

    On August 5, it was reported that the Philippine economy shrank 16.5 percent in the second quarter.

    The Philippine Statistics Authority revealed the bad news for the economy, pulling the plug on what was one of Southeast Asia’s fastest-growing economies before the pandemic.

    This development threw the nation into a technical recession.

    The April-June figure covers economic activity during the peak of the initial lockdown, which was imposed in mid-March before being eased in June.

    The economy contracted 0.7 percent in the quarter ended March, the first negative growth in two decades.

    The government revised it down on August 5 from a previously announced 0.2 percent, suggesting that the fallout from the pandemic was deeper than initially estimated.

    The Philippine economy plunged by much more than expected in the second quarter, falling into recession for the first time in 29 years.

    It is the biggest slump in the government’s quarterly Gross Domestic Product data dating back to 1981, the Philippine Statistics Authority said.

    The economic hit from the pandemic could worsen with the government reimposing tighter quarantine controls in the capital Manila and nearby provinces for two weeks from August 4.

    President Rodrigo Duterte approved placing Metro Manila and nearby provinces such as Laguna, Cavite, Rizal and Bulacan under so-called “Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine” (MECQ) until August 18.

    The lockdown will affect an estimated 25 million people, almost a quarter of the Philippines’ more than 100 million population.

    Some businesses and public transport are expected to be closed in the capital, which is currently under the less-restrictive General Community Quarantine classification.

    It is unclear if domestic flights from Manila are also affected, as in the previous lockdown of the country’s capital.

    Work and quarantine passes will also be required, as authorities seek to restrict movements.

    Some of the president’s allies have advised against a new lockdown saying it could cripple the already ailing economy.

    Duterte’s move came after 80 local groups representing 80,000 doctors and a million nurses called for tighter controls, saying the country was losing the fight against the coronavirus.

    “I have heard you. Don’t lose hope. We are aware that you are tired,” Duterte said in a late-night televised address that lasted early on August 3.

    The Philippines recorded 5,032 additional infections on August 2, the country’s largest single-day increase, taking its confirmed coronavirus cases to 103,185.

    The death toll jumped by 20 to 2,059.

    It was the second-highest number of COVID-19 infections and deaths in Southeast Asia, behind Indonesia.

    Duterte also approved the hiring of 10,000 medical professionals to beef up the current workforce and additional benefits for healthcare workers treating COVID-19 patients.

    In mid-March, Duterte imposed one of the world’s longest and strictest lockdowns in the capital and other provinces to curb the coronavirus spread.

    Duterte began easing restrictions in June in an effort to revive the domestic economy, which is now facing its biggest contraction in more than three decades.

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