CALAMBA CITY, Laguna (PIA) — The policy shift from provincewide community quarantine restrictions to granular lockdown will enable the Calabarzon region to gradually recover and bounce back from the economic downturns caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Region IV-A
NEDA IV-A Regional Director Luis Banua in his report during the ‘Dagyaw sa Calabarzon’ Open Virtual Townhall Meeting held Wednesday, November 17, stressed that the implementation of a more relaxed and targeted quarantine restrictions would allow safe reopening of industries in the region, helping business owners in certain areas slightly affected by the pandemic to continue their economic activities.
“Binibigyan natin ang kakayahan naman negosyante na hindi naman masyadong apektado na ipagpatuloy nila ang kanilang economic activities, at mas maganda po ito sa ating economy, at ang tao ay mas malaya. Mas maigi po ito upang magbukas na ang ating industriya at ekonomiya,” Banua said.
With the entire Calabarzon region placed under the Alert Level 2 until November 30, more establishments are now allowed to operate at a higher capacity, in accordance with the guidelines issued by the Inter-Agency Task Force Against Covid-19.
“Nakikita natin na we can live with the virus and the economy is now opening. Papunta na tayo dito sa increasing capacity of establishments and public utility vehicles — so it will lead to increase in consumer spending, increase in production, increase in manufacturing, it will lead us to higher growth rate,” the NEDA 4-A chief said.
Whole-of-nation approach towards recovery
Banua, in his report during the virtual townhall meeting also stressed the “whole-of-nation” approach being undertaken by government agencies and local government units in the Calabarzon region to gradually recover from the economic losses caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
These include the enhanced implementation of the PDITRV (prevent, detect, isolate, treat, reintegrate, vaccinate) strategies; utilization of Bayanihihan II funds, immunization of general public, and the pilot conduct of face-to-face classes.
He also emphasized that the implementation of the Build Build Build program including the enhancement of the ease of doing businnes in government and promotion of competitiveneness will help the Calabarzon economy in terms of generating more jobs and business investments in the region.
The regional socioeconomic planning chief also hopes for the funding of the Regional Recovery Program (RRP) which seeks to help the region in mitigating the losses from Covid-19 pandemic and to adapt to the new normal.
The program with total investment requirement of P67.205-billion consist of over 600 programs, projects, and activities covering sectors of social services, economic recovery, environment, transportation, and governance.
Strengthening demand generation
The NEDA IV-A also supports the move to offer vaccination incentives to drive more people to get vaccinated against Covid-19.
With vaccination as one of the key to safe resumption of economic activities, Banua has agreed with the suggestion to incentivize the government’s vaccination program than making it mandatory to achieve herd immunity.
“Sa demand side, bigyan natin ng incentives [ang mga tao] para yung mga hindi pa nagpapabakuna ay mapag isip isip na malaki ang benefit nito at mayroon din siyang agad na benepisyo,” Banua said.
Banua supports the move as the Calabarzon region remain behind the daily vaccination target of 370,000 jabs per day.
“Damihan natin yung incentives, kung epektibo yung bigas ay samahan na natin ng pang-ulam,” Banua said citing the rice incentives offered by the local government unit of San Antonio in Quezon in its vaccination program.
Data from the Department of Health (DOH) Region 4A showed that Calabarzon can only reach an average of 126,658 jabs per day, far behind the 50 percent of the daily target set by the national government.
Aside from the incentives, Banua also emphasized the need to strengthen the demand generation advocacy to further generate acceptance and demand as more people are still reluctant to get inoculated against Covid-19 due to misinformation and religious beliefs.
Citing more vaccines supply coming from the national government, Banua also urged local government units to ramp up their vaccination efforts such as increasing vaccination teams.
“Ituloy-tuloy natin ang pagbabakuna. Nandiyan na ang bakuna pero wala ang magbabakuna hindi na tayo pwede umasa sa volunteer vaccinators, kung hindi magbigay tayo ng sweldo,” Banua said.
While the Calabarzon continue to see improvements in terms of declining Covid-19 cases, Banua stressed the need to accelerate and ramp up efforts in order for the economy to operate at higher capacity.
These include the need to accelerate the vaccination program, increasing the seating capacity among public utility vehicles, organization of local public transport route plan, digitalization, and adherence of establishments to the Safety Seal Certification Program.
Banua also urged the regional and local task forces to continue managing the risks of the Covid-19 pandemic through the enhanced PDITRV to sustain the economic recovery of the Calabarzon region.
He also encouraged the public not to be complacent and continue observing minimum public health standards despite having protection against the disease, so as to prevent the surge of Covid-19 infections in the region.
Organized by the Department of the Interior and Local Government IV-A, Department of Budget and Management IV-A, Philippine Information Agency Calabarzon, and Partnership of Philippine Support Service Agencies, the Dagyaw 2021 aims to strengthen the public’s trust and awareness on the different programs, projects, and policies of the government through open and public dialogues.
The second episode attended by around 100 stakeholders in the region centered discussions on the pandemic situation, vaccination program, and government efforts geared towards recovery.
The virtual townhall event was also graced by panel discussants from the University of the Philippines Los Baños and the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry. — FC, PIA4A