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Business groups support Project Balik Buhay 

By: Irene R. Sino Cruz - CDN Digital | May 06,2020 - 11:56 AM

CEBU CITY, Philippines—Five business organizations express their support to the Project Balik Buhay eyed for implementation in the cities of Cebu, Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu on May 21, 2020.

Their support is signified in a joint advisory to member-companies and business owners entitled “United Stand To Support The Multi-Sectoral & Tri-City Program In Ramping Up Livelihood During The Covid-19 Pandemic.”

The joint advisory was signed by the presidents of the five business organizations – Felix Taguiam for the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry; Steven Alain Yu for the Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry; Ambassador Francisco Benedicto for the Cebu Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce; Santhana Krishnan Vaidiswaran for the MEPZCEM Chamber Inc.; and Chester Lim for the Philippine Retailers Association-Cebu Chapter.

The Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas (OPAV) defines Project Balik Buhay as the transition to the calibrated, scientific, evidence-based transition from enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) to general community quarantine (GCQ).

The five business organizations explained that “the continued ECQ, the disruption of our economy will be more exasperating which might wreak havoc on people’s enterprises and livelihood, and result to more suffering and hunger” but they also admitted that there was a need to balance life and livelihood.

While the business sector can tolerate the enhanced community quarantine for another week, they pointed at the need for government with the business and private sector to start working together in finding ways to scale back the quarantine to selective lockdown.

Focus should now shift “to saving the economy from complete collapse, while at the same time fight the spread of COVID-19, because to extend this indefinitely would be very difficult,” they added.

They also recognized that Project Balik Buhay is a multi-stakeholder plan that aims to balance economic sustainability and public health security of the three highly urbanized component cities within an 18-month period.

The plan includes guidelines of the gradual re-opening of the communities and businesses through a calibrated, scientific, and evidence-based transition from ECQ to modified community quarantine (MCQ) with required testing and compliance to new health protocols, they pointed out.

“After having been involved and consulted, together with Regional Development Council (RDC) 7 chair (Kenneth Cobonpue) and RDC-7 Economic Development Committee (EDC) chair (Virgilio Espeleta), Bayanihan Cebu, We, manifest full support and do our part in the ‘Project Balik Buhay’ with the objective of ramping up gradually economic activities initially in these three cities,” they stated in the joint advisory.

Second spike

They then appealed to the Cebu business community to be responsible in their actions in connection with the resumption of business operations.

“We cannot afford a second spike after lifting our ECQ. We do not want to be blamed as the source of new spikes of Covid19; hence, we appeal that only those who are ready and committed to fully comply shall resume its operation,” the joint advisory pointed out.

They urged business owners to align and comply with the guidelines of the project such as:

1. Priority to resume business operations are those with low risks of spreading and with significant economic impact while the high-risk businesses (uncontrolled environment as high virus spreaders) will not operate yet;

2. The need to comply with the new workplace health standards to control transmission of the virus. Each business entity should designate a Health and Infectious Disease (HID) Officer who shall focus on Covid19-avoidance in the workplace;

3. The need to conduct rapid tests on all returning employees followed by periodic random tests to ensure that the workplace is safe. (A separate guideline will be disseminated); and

4. The need to ensure that Management undertakes full responsibility in complying with new government directives, LGU ordinances and executive orders while actively liaising with the barangay, local government units, Department of Health and other government agencies.

They also invited business owners and their HID to participate in a series of webinars to be jointly conducted with DOH to coordinate with their respective chambers, especially in the random testing protocols. /bmjo

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