MANILA, (Mabuhay) — The Philippines cannot follow other countries’ move to completely reopen the economy amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic, President Rodrigo Duterte said on Tuesday.

In a taped public address aired on state-run PTV-4 early Wednesday, Duterte said he can only order the gradual reopening of the Philippine economy.

“We have to be very circumspect in reopening of the economy. Dahan-dahan lang (It should be gradual),” he said.

Duterte made the remark, as he noted that a total reopening would only place the Philippines in jeopardy.

Thus, he said, it is not advisable to imitate the “bold” decision of other virus-hit nations, such as China and the United States, to reopen all economic activities.

“There were a lot of countries also opening up. And first was Japan, then Korea, followed by China, and the United States,” Duterte said.

He said the Philippines would be in deep trouble should he decide to allow all industries to resume operations in the country amid the Covid-19 crisis.

“Mahirap tayo, hindi tayo puwedeng sumugal (We are just a poor country. We cannot take a risk). I cannot follow the example of other countries,” Duterte said. “Because if you open the entire Philippines and thousands upon thousands of new cases would happen, then we are in deep s***.”

Uptick in Covid-19 cases

The President warned that the country would only suffer because of the possibility that Covid-19 infections might continue to rise.

“Talagang mahirapan tayo. Unang-una wala tayong pera (It would be really difficult for us. First and foremost, we don’t have enough money [to address the pandemic]),” he said.

As of July 7, the Philippines has recorded a total of 47, 873 confirmed Covid-19 cases, with 12,386 recoveries and 1,309 deaths.

Duterte noted an increase in Covid-19 infections in other countries that decided to reopen their economy amid the pandemic.

“Now what really happened in these countries was that although they opened their economy for money to come in to the government coffers, ang nangyari (what happened) is there was a spike. They were having a problem with almost a relapse in the totality of the number. Iyon ang mahirap (That’s the challenge there),” he said.

Anchored on ‘pure science’

More industries have been allowed to resume their operations when Duterte relaxed the quarantine and health protocols in the country.

He said his decision to ease restrictions amid the outbreak was based on “pure science.”

“The resultant happening or the resultant endgame there is too horrible to ponder. I cannot make a guess. Governance is not made of guesses. It has to be anchored on pure science,” the President said.

He said the country is still in the first wave of Covid-19 infections because he is careful in making decisions.

We are still grappling with the first wave,” Duterte said. “And if ever there is going to be a spike again, baka marami ang (many might be) infected or re-infected, at least ‘yung (at least the) calibrated numbers of people we allowed to go out would be still within manageable numbers.” (MNS)

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