THE business sector in Bacolod City and Negros Occidental had expressed its opposition to placing Bacolod and Negros Occidental under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).
In a position paper, businessmen said the people of Bacolod and Negros Occidental are already experiencing the negative impact of the economic downturn due to the quarantine measures imposed earlier, and another lockdown may lead to more businesses closing, increase joblessness, more people falling deeper into poverty and its knock-on effects on peace and order.
The paper was signed by Edgar Sy, president of Bacolod Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc.; Henry Uy, chairman of Negros Occidental Filipino-Chinese Amity Club Inc.; Roberto Montelibano, president of Metro Bacolod Chamber of Commerce and Industry; William Ong, president of Northern Negros Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry; and Alfonso Cu, president of Southern Negros Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
They said the quarantine measures are necessary to stop transmission in its tracks but the specific measures to be taken should consider the balance between slowing down the rate of infections and its impact on the economy.
The business sector called on the full cooperation of the people of Bacolod City and Negros Occidental, the imposition of stricter enforcement of health protocol standards, implementing aggressive tracking and improving the monitoring system and declaring localized lockdowns in areas where community transmission is monitored.
The business sector suggested some measures to help curb the transmission without resorting to ECQ such as to strictly enforce discipline and impose penalties. Increase police visibility especially in high traffic areas to strictly enforce the minimum health standards, the physical distancing, wearing of face masks and the compliance of the vulnerable population.
They also suggested to empower the local barangay and hold barangay officials accountable for strict compliance to these minimum health standards in their sitios, puroks and barangays with constant monitoring and imposition of strict disciplinary measures. Likewise, impose earlier curfew and declare a liquor ban to limit movement and prevent unnecessary gathering and continue to disallow night gatherings.
They said that while quarantine measures are necessary to save lives, it is also necessary to reduce the possibility of more lasting damage to the economy.
"Our local economy may not survive another lockdown and vulnerable people, families, and communities can fall deeper into poverty," they added.