Philippines Plunges Into Recession and Cuts 2020 GDP Outlook. Philippines virus tally now among world's top 20 COVID-19 case count now near 317,000, including over 5,600 fatalities. ‘Philippine jobless rate highest in Southeast Asia’. 7.6 million families hungry in past 3 months, highest hunger rate. Philippines' GDP growth rate drops 16.5 pct Q2 2020, lowest since 1981. The Philippines’ Pandemic Response: A Tragedy of Errors.

Philippines Plunges Into Recession and Cuts 2020 GDP Outlook

The Philippine economy suffered its deepest contraction on record in the second quarter and revised down its forecast for the year amid one of Asia’s strictest lockdowns against the coronavirus. Gross domestic product shrank 16.5% from a year ago, according to the national statistics agency, the worst reading in a data series going back to 1981.

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Philippines virus tally now among world's top 20

COVID-19 case count now near 317,000, including over 5,600 fatalities.

Over 2,600 more coronavirus cases raised the overall count in the Philippines above 316,000 on Friday, putting it among the top 20 worst-hit countries in the world.

A total of 2,611 infections were recorded in the Philippines over the past 24 hours, taking the total to 316,678, according to the Department of Health.

At least 56 more COVID-19 patients died in the country, raising the death toll to 5,616, while recoveries increased by 416 to reach 254,617.

There are 56,445 active cases in the country, the department said.

Meanwhile, the case count in the southern autonomous Bangsamoro region climbed to 1,176, according to regional authorities.

At least 46 patients have died in the Muslim-majority region, while the number of active cases stands at 240.

The Philippines, which has the most COVID-19 cases in Southeast Asia, has enforced one of the longest virus lockdowns anywhere in the world.

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‘Philippine jobless rate highest in Southeast Asia’

The Philippines is seen booking the highest unemployment rate in Southeast Asia, with about eight million Filipinos expected to lose their jobs as the coronavirus disease 2019 or COVID-19 pandemic continues to overwhelm the economy, according to Maybank ATR Kim Eng.

In its ASEAN economics report titled “Labour market: Retrenchments and Recovery,” Maybank said the country’s unemployment rate is expected to hit a record 18.5 percent this year, the highest in Southeast Asia.

This is higher than Thailand’s 15.9 percent, Malaysia’s 6.5 percent, Indonesia’s 5.9 percent, Singapore’s four percent, and Vietnam’s 3.6 percent.


7.6 million families hungry in past 3 months, highest hunger rate

Some 7.6 million Filipino households experienced involuntary hunger in the past three months, the highest hunger incidence since 2014, results of a Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey showed Sunday.

Of 1,249 adult Filipinos surveyed from September 17 to 20, 30.7 percent of them said they experienced “hunger due to lack of food to eat,” higher than the 20.9 percent recorded in July.

Of the 7.6 million families, 22 percent or an estimate of 5.5 million families said they experienced moderate hunger or “only once or a few times” in the last three months.

Meanwhile, 8.7 percent or an estimate of 2.2 million families experienced severe hunger or “often or always” during the same period.

SWS also found that the overall hunger in Visayas, Mindanao, and Metro Manila reached new-record highs.

Overall hunger in Visayas increased from 27.2 percent or 1.3 families in July to 40.7 percent or 1.9 million families in September.

In Mindanao, 37.5 percent or 2.1 million families experienced hunger in September, up from 24.2 percent or 1.4 million families in July.

Metro Manila, meanwhile, saw an increase in hunger from 16.3 percent or an estimate of 546,000 families in July to 28.2 percent or 941,000 families in September.

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Philippines' GDP growth rate drops 16.5 pct Q2 2020, lowest since 1981

The GDP growth rate of the Philippines dropped by 16.5 percent in the second quarter of 2020, the lowest recorded quarterly growth since 1981, bringing the country to a technical recession.

In a virtual briefing held on Thursday, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said the economy contracted by 16.5 percent during the April to June period, following the downward-revised -0.7 percent in the first quarter of the year, and 5.4 percent in the second quarter of 2019.

PSA head Dennis Mapa said the main contributors to the decline were: manufacturing, 21.3 percent; construction, 33.5 percent; and transportation and storage, 59.2 percent.

Among the major economic sectors, the PSA said only agriculture, forestry, and fishing increased with 1.6 percent growth.

The PSA added that industry and services both decreased during the period by 22.9 percent and 15.8 percent, respectively.

On the other hand, the government's final consumption expenditure posted positive growth of 22.1 percent.

The PSA said Net Primary Income from the rest of the world and gross national income both declined by 22.0 percent and 17.0 percent, respectively.

Mapa said that the economic slowdown was "partly because of the April - May coronavirus lockdown," adding that the second-quarter GDP rate is the "largest decline" so far since 1981.

In mid-March, the Philippines imposed a lockdown in Metro Manila and other parts of the country to curb the spread of the virus.


The Philippines’ Pandemic Response: A Tragedy of Errors

The Duterte administration’s COVID-19 response marries incompetence with militarism.

The Philippine government has been boasting that as early as March 16, they had the gumption to implement a lockdown in major cities and provinces in response to the unfolding COVID-19 pandemic. However, Manila’s overall response to the pandemic has been fraught with incompetence and rife with terror. 

The implementation of the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) came on the heels of serious negligence — namely, the authorities failing to keep up with the preventive measures of neighboring countries and grossly underestimating the virus. What’s worse, instead of easing the overall burden that the virus unleashed on the country, it seems the last resort lockdown itself added to a plethora of problems without adequately addressing the primary crisis at hand: ensuring public health and safety.

Strict compliance with the ECQ is ordered for all citizens, with the exception of frontline professionals, until at least May 15. That has meant curfews, harsh penalties for being outside, and an impoverished population descending into hunger. 

The global crisis is first and foremost a public health issue, but Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has faced the coronavirus pandemic in a decidedly militaristic fashion. Since the lockdown went into effect, he has peddled the narrative of pasaways or “undisciplined” citizens as responsible for the ensuing problems. He has also brought up unsubstantiated activities of guerrilla groups as threats to government aid efforts without conceding any missteps in his management. On top of deploying thousands of police and soldiers throughout the archipelago to enforce the ECQ, Duterte has on two occasions threatened the public with all-out martial law. There have been moments of abject incompetence from those in power around the world, but using the pandemic as a reason for increasingly flexing authoritarian muscles spells danger for the Philippines post-lockdown.

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