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Gradual reopening of economy pushed

THE government will continue its efforts to safely further reopen the economy to mitigate hunger among Filipinos affected by the lockdowns due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Thus said Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua during the Coordinated Operations to Defeat Epidemic (CODE) team’s visit to San Juan City on Wednesday.

Chua said they now have to make a “better balance” between not just the health and the economy, but also between the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) cases and those who are suffering from other diseases or hunger.

Chua, also acting director general of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), cited the latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey showing that almost one-fourth of residents in the National Capital Region (NCR) are hungry, while the figure is “much less” outside NCR.

“Thirty percent of the people still cannot go to work and 50 percent of the people cannot take public transport. That is why we are working very hard to manage the risk and see how we can balance it better so that we can gradually open up. Because my fear is, the effect on the people, especially the poor, can be permanent, the scarring can be permanent,” he added.

Chua further said public transportation is imperative so people can commute and work or find jobs.

“In NEDA, we look after the economy and the economy is really about income, job, and livelihood,” he said.