BY MARCHEL P. ESPINA
Five business groups in Bacolod City and Negros Occidental are against a return to enhanced community quarantine and are asking for the cooperation of the public as COVID-19 cases continue to rise.
A position paper was released yesterday by the business groups, and signed by Edgar Sy, president of the Bacolod Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc., William Ong – president of Northern Negros Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc., Henry Uy, chairman of Negros Occidental Filipino-Chinese Amity Club Inc., Alfonso Cu – president of Southern Negros Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc., and Roberto Montelibano, president of Metro Bacolod Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
They stressed that the people are already experiencing the negative impact of the economic downturn due to the quarantine measures imposed earlier and another lockdown may lead to more businesses closing, increased joblessness, more people falling deeper into poverty, and its knock-on effects on peace and order.
They said that quarantine measures are necessary to stop virus transmission but the specific measures to be taken should consider the balance between slowing down the rate of infections and its impact on the economy.
They are calling on the full cooperation of the people of Bacolod City and Negros Occidental to comply with stricter health protocol standards, and in the implementation of aggressive tracking and improved monitoring system, and localized lockdowns in areas where community transmission is monitored.
They also suggested measures to help curb the transmission without resorting to ECQ.
These include strict enforcement of discipline and imposing of penalties, increased police visibility, especially in high-traffic areas to strictly enforce the minimum health standards such as physical distancing, wearing of masks, and the compliance by the vulnerable population.
The business groups also suggested empowering the tanods and holding barangay officials accountable for strict compliance with health standards in their sitios, puroks and barangay with constant monitoring and imposition of strict disciplinary measures.
They also suggested an early curfew and a liquor ban to limit movement and prevent unnecessary and big gatherings.
“While quarantine measures are necessary to save lives, it is also necessary to reduce the possibility of more lasting damage to the economy. Our local economy may not survive another lockdown and vulnerable people, families, and communities can fall deeper into poverty,” the business sector stressed.*