Some 1.6 million Filipinos will have a shot at getting back to work once the country opens more sectors and eases its lockdown, according to Secretary Ramon Lopez of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).
This number represents the 3-percentage point difference between the 8.7 percent unemployment rate to date and the 4 to 5 percent unemployment rate pre-pandemic
Lopez in a television interview cautioned hunger and unemployment rates may worsen especially in Metro Manila if lockdowns are prolonged, which could exacerbate criminality.
The economic team has recommended to place the entire Philippines under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ).
Citing data from the National Economic and Development Authority, Lopez said hunger rate before the pandemic was at 9 percent but this rose to 34 percent in the third quarter of 2020 before falling to 14.9 percent as of December.
However, Lopez said the hunger rate in Metro Manila remains high, 23.3 percent.
Lopez also noted while the national unemployment rate has improved from 17.7 percent in July 2020 to about 8.7 percent in October 2020, the rate in Metro Manila is still at a high of 12.4 percent.
“Obviously, that would go up even further (if we don’t open up) resulting to more urban poor… we should slowly give them an opportunity to (go back to) work,” he said.
“There are 1.6 million more who have yet to go back to work, what are we going to do about them?,” Lopez said.
He echoed pronouncements of the economic team of the irreversible damage hunger will have on Filipinos — stunted growth and dull headedness among children which would pose a challenge in achieving progress.
He said areas can be reverted to GCQ if COVID cases rise.
He added only a few sectors are closed under MGCQ particularly those in tourism.