REVIVING THE CORDILLERA ECONOMY

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The latest decision this month of the inter-agency task force for the management of emerging infectious diseases downgrading the community quarantine status in most geographic areas of the country, to help contain the rapid spread of the dreaded Corona Virus Disease (COVID) 2019, especially the more infectious Delta variant, is a good sign to help the ongoing efforts of local governments to allow the gradual and safe revival of the heavily impacted economy.

Numerous experts believe that the economy has to somehow start to allow it to regain its vibrance at least to pre-pandemic levels to generate jobs for people, increase opportunities for economic activities and provide sources of livelihood. Evidently, the COVID-19 virtually wiped out the said gains that were achieved in most parts of the global village over the past several decades and the rest is history.

The more than one year of implementing different levels of community quarantine in the various parts of the country significantly affected the momentum of local governments to have their economies gain headway while awaiting the efforts of the national government to bring normalcy back to the big industries for people to regain their jobs. The varying community quarantine status of neighboring communities had been obviously detrimental to the implementation of measures to perk up economy.

Thus, people, businesses and organisations are pinning their hopes on the govern ment’s mass vaccination program for the 70 percent herd immunity to be realized and allow the stagnated economy to advance. People are now tired and desperate looking for job opportunities and sources of livelihood earn income to sustain themselves and
their families. People are now on a survival mode looking for ways how to survive the crippling effect of the pandemic while awaiting things to get better in the future and for more jobs to be available to allow them to decently meet their needs.

In the Cordillera, Apayao and Baguio City have been placed under general community quarantine (GCQ) while Benguet, Ifugao, Abra, Kalinga and Mountain Province have been declared under a more relaxed Modified General Community Quarantine (MGCQ) status. It is important now for the local governments to work extra hard to contain the sudden surges in COVID-19 cases due to increased mobility of the people while vaccines are being awaited for the until the desired herd immunity is achieved. However, herd immunity should be simultaneously achieved by neighboring communities so that the spread of the deadly virus in such areas will be significantly reduced, thus, it will be the opportunity for the gradual and safe recovery of the economy.

While there are efforts in the local levels to gradually and safely revive economic activities, such endeavors are being sidelined by the sudden surges in the number of COVID-19 cases, aside from the implementation of conflicting community quarantine status in adjacent places that tend to create confusion among the people. Nevertheless, the direction is clear that the revival of the economy must start somewhere while strictly implementing the prevailing minimum public health standards to contain possible surges in cases because of the presence of the more infectious variant of the virus. A number of owners of businesses decided to either permanently or temporarily close their establishments because of the absence of clear-cut direction from concerned government agencies and local governments aggravated by the unpredictable situation of the virus not only in the country but also in the whole world. On the other hand, a good number of establishments remain open with the hope that the situation
normalizes for them to regain their customers. The best thing that have been observed is that there were also individuals who took the risk of opening their businesses during the pandemic which are now being patronized as orders of food, goods, and even services could be done online.

With the ongoing vaccination, although still very slow-paced, and with the expected arrival of more vaccines from the different pharmaceutical companies, more could be achieved in the country in the coming months that will include the start of the uphill climb to economic recovery. People should still do their part by cooperating with the
authorities in the implementation of the basic health and safety protocols while the government is doing its best to access more vaccines to be used to achieve the desired herd immunity by the end of the year. There are high hopes that it will be a different story next year. Let us keep our fingers crossed that the mask-less Christmas will be realized with our utmost cooperation and participation in the compliance to the mini mum public health standards

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