The Philippines is now into eight months of indefinite, no timetable lockdown since mid-March. The adverse impact on the economy and people’s livelihood is also indefinite. Estimates of the country’s GDP contraction this year range from -6% to -9.5%. At this rate, with this very low economic base in 2020, we need to grow by at least 10% in 2021 just to be at the economic level of 2019.
For this piece, I will briefly discuss the impact of the virus scare plus global lockdowns on two sectors, merchandise or goods trade and stock market capitalization.
The Philippines GDP size in 2019 was $377 billion and ranked 34th worldwide. In merchandise trade, the Philippines in 2019 ranked 43rd with $70-billion exports and ranked 34th with $113-billion imports.
With the COVID-19 scare and lockdowns in many countries, workers, investors and goods, from raw materials to finished products, have limited mobility. Among the countries listed in Table 1, data from the World Trade Organization (WTO) show that the Philippines has the second deepest contraction in exports next to India, the first half 2020 is only 40% of total exports in 2019. In imports, the Philippines has the deepest contraction, the first half 2020 only one-third of 2019 imports (see Table 1).
When it comes to the stock market, data from the World Federation of Exchanges (WFE) show that the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) capitalization of $275 billion in end-2019 shrank to only $192 billion by March 2020 and slowly inched up to $220 billion by September 2020, still a huge -20% contraction from the 2019 level and among the deepest dive in the world. Which means the already small capital base of the PSE became even smaller (see Table 2).
Strict lockdown policies — ECQ, MECQ, GCQ — which prohibit many public transportation options, among others, continue to wreak havoc on the economy affecting both rich and poor. Only government officials and personnel are not affected because their salaries and allowances, which have been appropriated in the 2020 budget, are already secured and funded.
The Concerned Doctors and Citizens of the Philippines (CDC PH) wrote to President Rodrigo Duterte on Oct. 7 appealing for lifting the lockdown nationwide. In that letter, the physicians and other signatories argued,
“…we do not need to sacrifice our nation’s economy to save the lives of the 800+ high-risk Filipinos each month who are actually threatened by COVID. To do this we propose the adoption of a scientific, data-driven and objective response: (1) isolation and early treatment of the sick, (2) protection of the vulnerable, i.e. the elderly and those with medical comorbidities, (3) quarantine only of affected localities based on metrics such as death rates, ICU capacity.”
“We propose the early treatment of COVID-19 with a variety of drugs and supplements such as Faviparivir, Budesonide, the very promising Ivermectin and the Zelenko Protocol, which combines zinc and Azithromycin with the highly politicized yet long proven effective hydroxychloroquine. Despite all the controversy surrounding HCQ, there remains very strong medical support for its efficacy in reducing mortality, hospitalization and the severity of the disease…”
The rising number of prohibitions and mandates make our lives and freedom more restricted. There is the mandatory closure of public transportation, closure of schools, churches and cinemas, and soon there will be mandatory vaccination — as if government and vaccine pushers are Gods who cannot make mistakes in the quality and safety of those vaccines. Mandatory vaccination is wrong and should not be imposed on all people.
Bienvenido S. Oplas, Jr. is the president of Minimal Government Thinkers