MANILA – President Rodrigo R. Duterte had consulted doctors and experts on the possible reopening of the Philippine economy amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic, Malacañang said Thursday.
Duterte made the consultation in a meeting held at Malacañan Palace on Wednesday, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a virtual press briefing.
“Tinanong niya talaga sa mga doktor at dalubhasa na naroroon sa meeting, ‘Kaya na bang buksan ang ekonomiya bagamat tumataas ang numero? (During the meeting, he asked the doctors and experts, ‘Can we reopen the economy despite the rising number [of Covid-19 cases]?),’” Roque said.
The President’s meeting with doctors and experts was not included in the edited video aired on state-run PTV-4 late Wednesday night.
Roque said the doctors and experts present during the meeting had told Duterte that the country could afford to resume more economic activities, provided several strategies that would curb the spread of Covid-19.
Duterte was told that economic reopening could be done, so long as localized lockdown is implemented, the Covid-19 testing capacity improves, and the vulnerable groups are protected, he said.
“Ang sagot nila ay pwede naman po (Their response was [reopening the economy] is possible),” Roque said.
On July 7, Duterte said the Philippines could not afford the total reopening of the economy because it might only trigger a sharp rise in Covid-19 cases in the country.
On Wednesday, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said there are signs of an economic rebound from Covid-19 induced slump.
One of the signs, Nograles said, is that the Bureau of Customs (BOC) exceeded its collection target for June by 4.4 percent or PHP1.8 billion despite the pandemic.
In June, the BOC collected PHP42.539 billion in customs taxes and duties, surpassing its target of PHP40.739 billion.
He also cited the previous report of the Tokyo-based debt watcher Japan Credit Rating Agency, Ltd., which disclosed that the Philippines’ credit rating reached the “A” grade level for the first time in June.
Malacañang earlier said all industries could only be allowed to resume operations if the number of Covid-19 infections in the country declines.
As of Wednesday, the Philippines has recorded 58,850 Covid-19 cases, with 20,796 recoveries and 1,614 fatalities. (PNA)