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Romualdez: Be Relentless vs COVID-19

Martin Romualdez
House Majority Leader and Leyte Rep Martin Romualdez (right) cooperates and gladly has his temperature taken at the House of Representatives as part of health protocol to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Photo by VER NOVENO

HOUSE Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez yesterday reminded the public to remain relentless in the fight against the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) after an economic official warned of an estimated whopping P22.7 billion per month in foregone revenues due to the dreaded virus scare.

“Our successful fight against the dreaded virus would at least cushion the impact to our economy of the dreaded virus. Otherwise, the economic loss would be detrimental to people’s livelihood and job opportunities especially in the tourism industry,” said Romualdez, who chairs the House committee on rules, hoping that the dreaded virus would not derail the country’s economic growth.

During Wednesday’s joint hearing by the House committees on economic affairs and on tourism, National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Undersecretary Rosemarie Edillon warned hat the country may lose P22.7 billion per month because of the COVID-2019 scare.

“Applying [the] multiplier effect of tourism, we expect that per month, kasama na rin ‘yung domestic airline receipts (this includes the domestic airline receipts)…we think it’s in the order of about P22.7 billion per month,” Edillon told lawmakers in response to the question of House senior Deputy Majority Leader and Cavite Rep. Jesus Crispin “Boying” Remulla.

“Our estimate is that if this goes on for five months, meaning all the way to the second quarter, then the impact on the GDP (gross domestic product) will be at minus .3 for the full year,” said Edillon, adding that the country’s tourism sector contributes 12.7 percent to the GDP.

In the same joint hearing, Tourism Sec. Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said the country could stand to lose P42 billion in tourism revenues from neighboring China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan starting this month to April due to COVID-19.

“The expected reduction of tourist arrivals from the markets affected will result to foregone revenues that will carry over until April of this year,” said Puyat, adding that the Philippines may lose P16 billion worth of tourism revenues this month alone.

Romualdez urged his colleagues, officials, employees and visitors of the House of Representatives to strictly observe the institution’s protective measures against the virus after the Department of Health (DoH) announced that the number of patients under observation for COVID-19 has breached the 400 mark.

“We should continue to strictly observe health protocols and protective measures with the increasing number of patients who are under observation for the deadly virus,” said Romualdez as Health Undersecretary Eric Domingo said that 238 patients are still admitted in hospitals, and 165 have been discharged as of 12 noon Wednesday.

House Assistant Majority Leader and Quezon City Rep. Precious Hipolito pushed for hazard pay, insurance and other benefits of health workers in the country as they are the ‘frontliners’ in the campaign against the COVID-19.

Aside from doctors, nurses and other staff of hospitals are the most vulnerable to the deadly virus because they attend to the infected, said Castelo, vice chairperson of the House committee on Metro Manila development.

“They should be given extra pay and protection in recognition of the risk they face in performing their duties and responsibilities as health workers,” the said Castelo.

In the Philippines, nurses are not being paid enough despite the dangers associated with their job, Castelo lamented.

“We should start protecting them before its too late,” said Castelo.