Business groups said the government has relinquished its moral responsibility to its citizens in the face of more stringent community quarantine restrictions as COVID-19 infections surged to a new record-high.
“The government has abdicated its responsibility to protect the people and to provide for their needs, notwithstanding how the poor can fend for their own given the very limited job opportunities which will be further limited by the curfew and cutback on working hours,” said Employers Confederation of the Philippines president Sergio Ortiz-Luis.
He said the government should answer to the demands of the working class by allowing more options for public transportation especially of the buses along EDSA.
Ortiz-Luis said many business organizations were also calling for the suspension of the Privacy Act “to give face to numbers so that people will understand where the country is right now.
“This will allow the people to know what they are up against. As private individuals they are also entitled to the truth. I think the suspension of the Privacy Act will greatly complement contact-tracing efforts and save the government much needed funds that can be reallocated for other similarly important purposes,” he said.
Ortiz-Luis said the looming threat of another lockdown would only scare the people more than ever.
“The economy cannot sustain another lockdown even for just a few weeks. I’m pretty sure that criminality will surge parallel to the surge of those infected. Why, because people are hungry. And virus or not, they need to eat. Another lockdown would mean suspension of jobs. The government should find another way to deal with this,” he said.
The Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry lamented similar concerns on the economy and on the fragile situation of the working population as not only because business hours were shortened, but many feel that limited working hours may force business owners to temporarily close and allow workers another furlough.
“The proposal for a second lockdown is still under evaluation by the authorities. Definitely our economy will suffer, even the great taipan Ramon Ang had shown serious concerns about [economic recovery]. I think our government is doing its best to solve the problem. The private sector is constantly reaching out to see how we can support the efforts of our government,” said PCCI chairman emeritus Francis Chua.
At the current rate, while many businesses have reopened, many micro and small companies may have to close shop, albeit temporarily if infections continue to rise and the government finds it prudent to place the country on a second lockdown, Chua said.
“While we’re at this, there seems to be companies wherein laborers are planning to go on strike. So we appeal to the government, to secretary Ramon Lopez and secretary Silvestre Bello III to come up with a moratorium on strikes, especially at this most difficult time.”
Meanwhile, the country’s largest convenience store chain, 7-11, said it will continue to follow the government’s protocol on businesses since it is the safest and most logical thing to do in a crisis.
“We follow government regulations for hours but will continue to serve our customers to the extent possible. We've recently pivoted to more essentials at lower prices in the spirit of bayanihan so people can shop closer to home and lower the spread. we are also scaling up online grocery,” said 7-11 president Victor Pardo-Paterno.
With regrets, the government was forced to place under suspension the operations of recently reopened establishments comprising driving schools, entertainment, amusement and recreation industries like traditional cinemas and video- and interactive- game arcades, libraries, archives, museums and cultural centers, limited social events at accredited establishments of the Department of Tourism and limited tourist attractions, except for open- air tourist attractions.
While 95 percent of the opened establishments comply with the health protocols, the DTI saw it prudent to reduce the maximum venue capacity to 30 percent for essential business gatherings.