Employers urge further economic reopening

The country should further reopen its economy to prevent job losses resulting from downsizing or closure of a number businesses, according to the head of the employers’ group.

“Hindi na kaya ng ekonomiya (our economy cannot bear it anymore). Before, our worry was the micro and small industries. Now, our worry is the big ones are beginning to really downsize or close. Yun ang dapat iwasan (We should avoid that from happening),” Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) president Sergio Ortiz-Luis Jr. said in a radio interview.

He said the 10,000 deaths related to the coronavirus pandemic is a small number compared to those who die from hunger while the crime rate can increase due to job losses.

To further reopen the economy, Ortiz-Luis Jr. said there should be sufficient mass transportation as many companies cannot provide shuttle services for their employees.

He added businesses should be given the opportunity to prosper so more can get hired.

“Reopen and implement the minimum public health protocols. Catch protocol offenders but let all reopen,” Ortiz-Luis Jr. said in Filipino in another radio interview.

He added the Philippines can learn from its neighbors how they reopened their economies amid the pandemic.

Ortiz-Luis Jr., also president of the Philippine Exporters Confederation Inc. (PHILEXPORT), cited the result of the group’s survey on the status of firms for 2021. Findings showed that majority or 57.6 percent of the respondents reported no lay-off, while 42.4 percent laid off employees either temporarily or permanently.

About 70 percent of the respondent firms cited difficulties in coordinating with supply/value chains as the top factor why they experienced operational slowdown or shutdown last year, followed by difficulty in transportation (48.5 percent).

He added that the majority or 81.8 percent of the survey respondents said they are undertaking measures to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus in their respective companies.

These are through strictly following the minimum public health protocols, which includes wearing masks, hand hygiene, and physical distancing, he said.

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