Acting NEDA director general Karl Chua made the proposal in President Rodrigo Duterte’s televised briefing on Monday night.
The President thanked Chua for his presentation on the economy but did not react to the proposal, which the acting socioeconomic planning secretary previously delivered to the Inter-Agency Task Force – which reports to Duterte — on the coronavirus pandemic.
On January 29, the government said Metro Manila, the Cordillera Administrative Region, the provinces of Batangas, Davao del Norte, and Davao del Sur, and the cities of Tacloban, Davao City, and Iligan are under GCQ for the whole month of February, with the rest of the country under MGCQ.
Chua said the whole country should shift to MGCQ starting next month to stem hunger and to balance the economy with the control of the coronavirus.
He said the NEDA recommended this after seeing a “low spike” of coronavirus cases after the Christmas holidays, better than originally projected by health experts.
Loosening quarantine restrictions would allow those suffering from poverty and income loss, especially in Metro Manila, to recover faster, Chua said, as he enumerated other ways to allow the economy to move again.
NEDA proposed easing public transport restrictions to 75 percent of passenger capacity from 50 percent, to support more “active transport” such as bicycle lanes, and to allow more inter-province buses to operate.
Chua also said the government should expand the age range of persons allowed to go out of their homes in increments of five years until it reaches the 5 to 70 age range, from the current 15 to 65 range.
He also proposed that face-to-face classes be resumed in pilot areas, a move Duterte had suspended in January.
“Mataas na po ang hunger lalo na sa NCR (National Capital Region),” Chua told Duterte, adding the loosened rules would allow more Filipinos to work and get a job while still observing health protocols.
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