PHILSTAR

SENATOR Panfilo M. Lacson, a candidate for President, said Tuesday that he and his running mate, Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III, are consulting health experts to find alternatives to lockdowns, which he said have done major damage to the economy.

He said in a radio interview that lockdowns have “crippled the economy but failed to stop or even slow down the spread of COVID (coronavirus).”

“Vaccination is the number one solution,” he added, “because in other countries, economies will reopen if the vaccination rate is high, so that is what we need to focus on.”

Mr. Lacson, who was discussing his plans for restoring the economy’s growth path in the interview on DZRH radio, said one of his priorities is to further digitize the economy in order to enhance competitiveness.

“We have been left behind. Other countries have digitized their economies (to the point where) their national and local government units have interoperability,” Mr. Lacson said. He noted that the high cost of power and labor are also factors in the lack of progress on the digital front.

Mr. Lacson highlighted the importance of devoting resources to research and development, and added that he plans to attract more foreign investment to upgrade the state of Philippine technology via incentives.

Also on Tuesday, Mr. Lacson consulted with the Federation of Jeepney Operators and Drivers Association of the Philippines (FEJODAP) Calabarzon in Lipa City, amid allegations by transport organizations that the government has neglected to provide temporary livelihood to transport workers at the height of the lockdowns.

Jeepney drivers said movement restrictions have affected their income, which comes on top of the burdens imposed by the requirement to modernize the jeepney fleet.

FEJODAP President Solano Roxas said the association was prepared to hear solutions to their current predicament, noting that cash aid being provided was not ultimately what transport workers need.

“We are not looking for financial assistance,” Mr. Roxas said in Filipino during the consultation. “What we need is for our jobs to continue.”

Mr. Lacson, whose father was a jeepney driver, said a government under his leadership will do a better job preparing the industry before imposing modernization. — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan