Duterte says he can't follow other countries in totally opening up economy amid pandemic
President Rodrigo Duterte has admitted that he could not follow other rich countries in totally opening up the economy amid the coronavirus disease pandemic.
In a taped televised message early Wednesday, Duterte said the Philippines, which is a "poor" country, could not afford "a total epidemic or pandemonium" if it would open the economy, like the United States, Brazil, Japan, South Korea, and China, among others.
"We are poor, we cannot gamble. I cannot follow the example of other countries because as the experience have shown as of now, there were a lot of countries also opening up," he said.
He cited the case of Brazil and the US where their presidents, Jair Bolsonaro and Donald Trump, respectively, are a "bit brave."
"Bolsonaro has the money. He's like Trump and has a devil-may-care-attitude."
Bolsonaro recently admitted that he tested positive for COVID-19.
"Now what really happened in these countries was that although they opened their economy for money to come in to the government coffers, there was a spike (in coronavirus cases). They were having a problem of almost a relapse, it's like a relapse in the totality of the number," Duterte said.
Despite the surge in COVID-19 cases, Duterte said the Philippines is still on first wave.
He noted that of the 47,873 cases as of July 7, the total number of active cases were 34,178.
"Now we do not even know if the number of 34,178 of active cases is still a part of the first wave or have we arrived at the second wave. I don’t think so. We are still grappling with the first wave," Duterte said.
Like others, Duterte said he wanted to go out. But he could not do because of the threat of infection.
"And so we have to be very circumspect in reopening of the economy...and if ever there is going to be a spike again, there could be more infected or re-infected. At least the calibrated numbers of people we allowed to go out would be still within manageable numbers," he explained.
"Because if you open the entire Philippines and thousands upon thousands of new cases would happen, then we are in a deep s***," he stressed.
The entire Philippines remains under community quarantine. However, each province, highly urbanized city and independent component city has various quarantine classifications depending on the number of cases and health care capacity.
Metro Manila and a few other places have been under less restrictive quarantine rule of general community quarantine compared with Cebu City, which remains under enhanced community quarantine.
Most parts of the country are under modified general community quarantine. Celerina Monte/DMS