The government under the Duterte administration has officially declared that the Philippines has plunged into recession. The current climate brings problems to Filipinos, such as the growing unemployment rate, as well as weakened trade and economic activities caused by the COVID-19 crisis which the country struggles to contain seven months after the first positive case emerged.

After nearly three decades, this is the first that the Philippines suffered again recession. The country experienced 16.5% contraction in the second quarter of the year, the lowest rate ever to be recorded in Philippine history.

The Philippines is also the worst hit economy in Southeast Asia by COVID-19. Neighboring nations have managed to address the urgency of the pandemic, leading them to open their economy earlier, while the country remains walking in the dark in terms of COVID-19 response.

While the stringent lockdown imposed by President Rodrigo Duterte somehow slowed down the spread of the viral disease in key areas of the country, it might not have helped that much in the overall fight against the pandemic. Yet, it became the obvious reason behind the decline in economic activity.

Despite imposing the longest lockdown period in the world lasting more than five months, the Philippines now is the country with the highest number of COVID-19 cases in Southeast Asia with more than 130,000 positive cases, toppling Indonesia, a bigger archipelago with a larger population.

The government should have seen that recession coming, but members of the Duterte administration might not be believers of the old saying “an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure.”

It’s high time for the government to act with the sense of urgency rather than bickering the same old mantras again on how the current situation is about choosing health over economy or vice versa, and realize that waiting for a vaccine to be produced by other countries isn’t exactly a plan, before worse comes to worst.

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