Philippine government shuns hard lockdown

The government is adopting a “granular” approach instead of hard lockdowns to address a stubbornly high unemployment rate.
By: | March 12, 2021

Labour secretary Silvestre Bello III has said, “We cannot afford to go back to the hard lockdown situation and lose our jobs again.” 

He said this as the country has yet to recover from the impact from the pandemic. In January, 4 million Filipinos went jobless, up by over 200,000 from the previous quarter and breaking a decline in unemployment rate that has held steady at 8.7%. 

Even after seven months after hard lockdowns were lifted, the economy has not improved much, and movement restrictions have hampered workers going to offices.  

For those employed at the beginning of this year, the situation is not any better. About 16% of these workers are looking for more work and more pay in January – an indication that even if some 1.4 million jobs had returned, most of them are not paying enough to beat rising inflation. 

Representatives of employers and unions who weighed in agreed that a hard lockdown should be avoided, but added that safety measures should be stepped up.  

“The requirements and protocols need to be enforced well, so that those who work can work, and companies are encouraged to let them go back to work,” said Sergio Ortiz-Luis Jr, president of the Employers Confederation of the Philippines. 

“Many workers now have no other choice but to take the risks of exposure with the virus than allow hunger and poverty to take over the household,” said Alan Tanjusay, spokesperson of the Associated Labor Unions. 

READ: “No vaccination, no work” policy is illegal in the Philippines

The national government is taking a more “granular” approach, including imposing curfews in cities and towns such as San Juan, Caloocan and Metro Manila.  

Bello is optimistic that with these measures in place in addition to the start of vaccination in the country, recovery is around the corner, according to Philstar Global.