Gina, not her real name, became a victim of purse snatching at a local wet market last week. Gina used to sing in classy bars and hotels before the pandemic struck. After seven months of lockdowns that closed down the establishments where she regularly sings, she got practical. She set up shop to make ube jam and leche flan to sell. Pretty soon orders were coming in. Alas, last week, the purse with the P4,800 she earned from her small business was snatched. She described the snatcher as lanky and in his late teens or early 20’s. The money and the purse were not recovered. The snatcher ran so fast, and there were no policemen in sight.
When there is poverty, hunger and joblessness, a spike in crimes follow. Millions of Filipinos reported experiencing involuntary hunger. Not enough food on the table in millions of homes across the country. One out of four employable Filipinos is jobless. Nearly 30 percent of registered companies have closed while 50 percent are not operating at full capacity. The airline and tourism industry are ailing. Philippine Airlines, Asia’s first airline will be laying off nearly half of its workforce. A number of hotels and restaurants have shuttered in the last seven months. Hundreds of private schools did not open this school year and close to a million did not enroll.
Meanwhile, government borrowings and spendings are at an all-time high.
The government is also in the process of selling some government assets, in case, to finance its operations and activities. It is nauseating that while the private sector has been hemorrhaging and laying off workers because of the lockdowns and quarantines, the government workers continue enjoying the perks such as security of tenure, allowances,13th month pay and bonuses. This is not counting the billions some government officials pocketed using their positions of power in the bureaucracy. It seems the IATF only favored the government sector but failed the private sector. Some 10 million employees in the private sector are in danger of losing their jobs if the economy does not rebound.
The government’s inter-agency task force (IATF) formed by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte to help the country fight the pandemic failed in their task to protect the interests of the private sector. The IATF relish seeing the private sector languish. The powerful IATF continues to enforce lockdowns, community quarantines, and travel restrictions. Many feel the IATF is already out of bounds. The power-heavy IATF gets to have their cake and eat it too at the expense of the economy and the welfare of the general public. Mortality rate of the disease is less than one percent of the population. There were more deaths caused by tuberculosis than covid19. Last year 30,000 died of TB compared to the 5,865 deaths due to Covid19 since March.
Must the government continue the lockdowns, travel restrictions and community quarantines even if the numbers do not warrant such measures? Even Finance Secretary Dominguez is telling the whole government bureaucracy to
free the economy.’’ The economy must re-open more. Dominguez said too much quarantine restrictions’’ is holding back the economy. Mobility is the key to revive the economy.
The IATF travel restrictions have hurt the OFW sea-based sector as well. Hundreds of seafarers were not able to go on board because of the IATF’s travel restrictions and quarantine protocols.
To add insult to injury, too much quarantine restrictions can be considered an affront to personal liberty. Cases of self-isolation, depression and desperation have been reported. Think of the millions that were not allowed to travel and visit with family and friends for months. The IATF is now acting like demi-gods.
The IATF is killing the goose that lays the golden eggs.