The Philippine economy will not be able to withstand the impact of a longer modified enhanced community quarantine or MECQ in Mega Manila, Malacañang said Tuesday.
Mega Manila, which comprises Metro Manila, Laguna, Cavite, Rizal and Bulacan, was again placed under MECQ until Aug. 18 to prevent the collapse of the health care system as the COVID-19 cases exceeded 100,000.
READ: Rody okays shift to MECQ
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque dismissed the suggestions to extend the MECQ until the end of the month, saying the decision for a two-week MECQ was reached to reflect the “delicate balance” between health and economy.
“I will be blunt. the economy cannot withstand a longer lockdown,” Roque said in a virtual Palace briefing.
He also said there would be no cash aid or Social Amelioration Program distribution for the families affected by the re-imposition of the MECQ because the government had no budget.
He says the government cannot provide financial aid to the millions of families since Congress did not approve the Bayanihan 2 bill.
The Bayanihan 2 bill was supposed to extend the validity of the coronavirus programs and interventions laid out under Republic Act 11469, or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act.
READ: MECQ halts public transport, restricts movements
The Labor department, meanwhile, said Close to 141,000 workers were displaced due to the COVID-19 shutdown and retrenchment by companies in the first eight months of the year.
The department said 140,958 employees were affected nationwide from 6,843 establishments from Jan. 1 to Aug. 2.
The department also reported it had almost exhausted the P2.5-billion fund for its Abot Kamay ang Pagtulong or AKAP assistance program for the Filipino workers abroad who were affected by COVID-19.
Roque said the decision to place Mega Manila under MECQ instead of the medical frontliners’ request for enhanced community quarantine or ECQ, the most stringent type of quarantine, was also because of the impact an ECQ would have on the economy.
The MECQ was imposed as a “compromise” to the demand of health care workers for a timeout to beef up the country’s healthcare system, he said.