Cebu business groups: Balancing life and livelihood urgent
CEBU CITY, Philippines — Business groups in Cebu expressed their support to the Cebu City government’s calls to a downgrade of its quarantine status.
A joint statement issued on Friday, June 19, from various business organizations here stressed that the need to balance life and livelihood could no longer be delayed.
“We express our strong support to the appeal of Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella on the reclassification of Cebu City from enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) to general community quarantine (GCQ),” portions of the statement read.
“While we very much understand and agree that public health comes first during this pandemic, we have come to a point where the need to balance health with the health of the economy can no longer be delayed,” it added.
The groups that joined the calls were the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI), Cebu Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce (CFCCC), Cebu – IT-BPM Organization (CIB.O), Philippine Retailers Association – Cebu Chapter (PRA – Cebu), Confederation of Philippine Exporters Foundation Inc. – Cebu (PhilExport Cebu), Cebu Furniture Industries Foundation Inc. (CFIFI), Cebu Business Club, and Cebu Leads Foundation Inc. (CLF).
The two-page document was signed by Felix Taguiam (CCCI President), Ambassador Francisco Benedicto (CFCCC President), Gregg Victor Gabison (CIB.O President), Angela Figueroa – Paulin (CFIFI President), Gordon Alan Joseph (CBC President), Chester Lim (PRA-Cebu President), Nelson Joseph Bascones (PhilExport Cebu President), and Bunny Pages (CLF Chairman).
The business community’s census came four days after the national government announced to put Cebu City, dubbed as the Queen City of the South, and the hub of economic activities in the Visayas-Mindanao region, back to the strictest quarantine status.
Prior to coming up with their position statement, they disclosed that they held a dialogue with the Cebu Medical Society which earlier made its stance for the public not to take the pandemic lightly.
Businesses in Cebu have observed an improvement in the city’s economy when it shifted to a more relaxed GCQ last June 1, with up to 60 percent of establishments reopened.
But such a trend was only short-lived when the ECQ was reimposed on June 15, and confidence in business was dampened as it compelled several enterprises to close their doors again.
“The ECQ status is a great disadvantage to the business community and the working sector, as it will create a more exasperating disruption to our economy which might wreak havoc on people’s enterprises and livelihood, and result in more suffering and hunger,” the Cebu business groups said.
“We have arrived at the new normal, and instead of being passed around back and forth like a ball on what quarantine status to be in, it is time that we adapt and learn to live our lives throughout this pandemic, instead of just waiting for the virus to dissipate. Hence, the need to balance life and livelihood,” they added.
While expressing support on the need to reinforce stricter health standards and protocols, business groups, however, also called out the utilization of inaccurate data and excluding economic impact in making policies and decisions.
“The move to revert Cebu City back to ECQ based on flawed data analysis and without factoring in the economic aspect is unacceptable,” the Cebu business groups said.
The private sector is also urging unity in the community to fight the pandemic.
“Lastly, we call for solidarity among our government leaders, the business and private sector, and the medical community and engage in more dialogues that will yield the best approach to combat COVID-19 as we move forward,” they stated.
As of June 18, the total number of COVID-19 cases in Cebu City has reached 4,137 with 2,001 recoveries and 58 deaths.
The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) decided to put Cebu City back to ECQ due to the high transmission rate of the coronavirus, and increasing demand for critical care. /dbs
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