The Philippines is Doing Well Against Covid-19
The new normal is the best opportune time to invest. Entrepreneurs, small and big businessmen and the government itself should take this opportunity to spend as Metro Manila and other parts of the country prepare for the new normal under Alert Level 1.
The Metro Manila Council (MMC), which is composed of the mayors in the metropolis, has already recommended the downgrade of the status of the National Capital Region to Alert Level 1 starting March 1 in view of the declining daily and active Covid-19 cases.
Metro Manila mayors now feel that the Covid-19 situation is very much manageable. I can only agree with them. Less restrictive measures will stimulate business activities and lead to more employment. Both Metro Manila and most parts of the country are now classified as low risk, with over 62.5 million Filipinos fully inoculated against the virus as of last week.
Alert Level 1 is the ideal economic environment. Businesses and industries are allowed to open at 100 percent of their capacity, which means more people can travel, work and earn a living. It will also mark the beginning of the endemic stage—which means we have to learn how to live with the virus and carry on with our daily tasks without restrictions.
The transition to the new normal will be smoother if we invest in the future to improve our quality of life in terms of the air we breathe, water that we drink and homes that we live in. Having learned many lessons from the pandemic, we need to adapt to changes and set new priorities.
The new normal is not going to be “business as usual.” It is about responsibility. We are all in this together because our individual actions may affect other people.
Both the government and the private sector should invest in spaces to ease traffic gridlock, improve the flows of commodities and enable greater mobility for our people. I am glad that even as the pandemic raged on in the past two years, we continued to build roads, bridges and railways to ensure we are prepared to take off in the new normal.
The installation of 500 kilometers of bike lanes in the past two years is a prime example of how we responded to the needs of our people for mobility and better road design. We should also sustain the “Build, Build, Build” projects not only in Metro Manila, but also in other parts of the country, so that economic activities would spread to more communities.
The Covid-19 experience has reminded us that we should redesign spaces to allow more ventilation and sunlight in our homes, offices, workplaces and commercial establishments. Hopefully, our engineers, architects and urban planners will take these factors into consideration when planning new developments.
As I have mentioned in this space for a number of times, we should invest in healthcare facilities and the pharmaceutical sector. The crisis has taught us that health takes precedence over other concerns. Investing in this sector should be reflected in our investment priorities, especially for a populous nation like the Philippines. We will soon have a large greying population, as our birth rate falls and the large segment of baby boomers joins the ranks of senior citizens and retirees.
To improve our quality of life, we should invest in water resources, infrastructure and treatment plants. It is important that we protect and preserve our rivers, while making sure infrastructures are built to reduce climate-induced flooding and drought.
This is the time to plan and build resilient homes and communities that can withstand strong winds. Super typhoons now visit the Philippines more frequently. The death toll and damage from natural disasters are just too much for our country, and we should do something to mitigate it.
We should do our part to lessen the impact of climate change by shifting to green energy and transportation. Many global automobile companies have announced plans to phase out gasoline or diesel-fueled cars, and the Philippines has just begun to promote electric vehicles for public transportation to support the transition. But we need to invest in infrastructure to make this transition not only possible, but also commercially feasible.
Other areas that we should invest in are IT and digital technologies, which have helped us a lot during the pandemic. We should continue our investments in this sector to support the growth of education, banking and finance, industries, services and basically most segments of our economy.
These investments will hopefully help us in our ambition to become an advanced economy within this generation. It is time to invest to make up for the lost years during the pandemic and secure the future under the new normal. Covid-19 has forewarned us of our shortcomings.