CIELITO F. HABITO
NO FREE LUNCH: Overstated decline?
August 18, 2020
While the Philippine Statistics Authority reported a 16.5 percent economic contraction in the second quarter, could things actually have been better than what those numbers suggest? In a recent group chat with my Ateneo Economics faculty colleagues, someone mused that perhaps the reported decline in the economy partly reflects how most of our purchases are now being made in the informal sector.
Read more: https://opinion.inquirer.net/132795/overstated-decline
NO FREE LUNCH: Anatomy of a recession
August 11, 2020
The Philippine economy is now officially in recession, the first time in nearly three decades. To be in recession, the economy must have contracted over two consecutive quarters. The earlier reported -0.2 percent GDP year-on-year growth (contraction) posted for the first quarter (Q1) has been revised with fuller data, and turns out to have been more than three times worse, at -0.7 percent. The second quarter (Q2) figure is a much deeper dive of -16.5 percent. Various data feeding into the national income accounts would have been much more difficult to obtain under the community quarantines, so I'd expect the Q2 figures to be even less precise than usual. We will know whether the reported -16.5 percent was an under- or overestimate only in November, when the third quarter data will come out with revised and updated Q2 figures.
Read more: https://opinion.inquirer.net/132593/anatomy-of-a-recession
EDILBERTO C. DE JESUS
[OPINION] Heel as one
August 08, 2020
Evolving in close proximity with human beings since prehistoric times, dogs supposedly developed the habit of subordination to their masters. But some dogs, still influenced by ancient instincts, display more independence and must be disciplined and trained to quick and unquestioning obedience. They must learn to attend to the master and stand motionless on the command to "heel."
The sound of the two words is the same, so maybe the legislators just misspelled their bill. The prescription, perhaps, was not really to "Heal as One." Placing at the top of the campaign against the pandemic the best trained and the most experienced people in the sciences and medicine, as South Korea did, would have delivered this message. Like the master of a pack of dogs, perhaps, what they really wanted was for the people to "Heel as One."
Read more: https://rappler.com/voices/thought-leaders/opinion-heel-as-one
JUAN MIGUEL LUZ
[ANALYSIS] How ready are our basic education schools for the 2020 school opening?
August 06, 2020
The Philippines is the last of the ASEAN countries to reopen its basic education schools. This reflects both extraordinary caution on the part of the national leadership but also indecision on their part.
Being slow to move, however, does have its positive points. It allows the Department of Education to study how other ministries of education have acted and pick up key learnings from their experiences.
How have our ASEAN neighbors reopened their schools? For the most part, not in all grade levels at once but in phases. This prevents a surge when schools open that may be difficult to control. It also allows schools to adjust to the health protocols and get students attuned to new behaviors expected of them.
One major learning: Have a plan for what to do with schools and areas when there is a resurgence of cases. A more local lockdown appears to be the answer. This requires foresight and planning, not "seat of the pants" midnight speculation.
Read more: https://rappler.com/voices/thought-leaders/school-reopening-during-pandemic-lessons-from-asean
NO FREE LUNCH: Hunger: Our bigger crisis
August 04, 2020
The coronavirus had claimed 2,059 Filipino lives as of last weekend. Every year in recent years, more than 31,000 Filipino children have died due to undernutrition, as estimated by Save the Children. The organization linked 838,000 additional Filipino deaths in 2013 to hunger and malnutrition. These numbers tell us that we've had a far bigger public health crisis long before COVID-19 came, yet has not caused nearly as much concern or gained as much attention. Worse, the measures put in place to manage the coronavirus have dramatically worsened the bigger and wider problem of hunger.
Read more: https://opinion.inquirer.net/132384/hunger-our-bigger-crisis
BUSINESS MATTERS: Social capital against COVID-19
August 01, 2020
This time, at least the rhetoric was right: "Heal as One," instead of "War against COVID-19." The Bayanihan Act itself fixed its provisions on constitutional anchors. And the initial response of a former mayor turned president looked to the level of government closest to the community, the barangay heads, to take the initiative in mobilizing the people against the pandemic.
The reality quickly proved different from the rhetoric. Faced with an unfamiliar problem, President Duterte immediately reverted to the default mode: Mobilize police and military elements against the enemy. To direct the Cabinet-level National Task Force Against COVID-19, he appointed, as on earlier occasions, a retired general, who already had a critical job as head of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process.
Read more: https://opinion.inquirer.net/132297/social-capital-against-covid-19
NO FREE LUNCH: In search of economic boosters
July 31, 2020
Someone asked me the other day what I see to be the "bright spots" that could carry our economy through the difficult way out of the pandemic-induced recession. Where can we look to for hope of recovering jobs and incomes lost by millions of Filipinos? In which sectors and industries can revitalization happen sooner?
Read more: https://opinion.inquirer.net/132187/lost-momentum
NO FREE LUNCH: Lost momentumopening?
July 28, 2020
Sayang. Too bad. We've come a long way building up the momentum for our economy since the latter part of the Marcos martial law years, when the economy was flattened by political turmoil and capital flight. In the troubled 1980s decade, the Philippines' annual GDP growth rate averaged a mere 1.8 percent. In the following decade that began with the closing years of the presidency of Cory Aquino, dominated by that of Fidel V. Ramos, and ended under Joseph Estrada, annual GDP growth averaged 2.9 percent. Average GDP growth in the Ramos years was a more impressive 4.4 percent, but was pulled down by the disaster-marked final years of Aquino, and the Asian financial crisis-hit early years of Estrada. The first decade of the new millennium saw a 4.8 percent average annual GDP growth rate, and in this last decade since 2011, we had already been averaging 6.2 percent. For the first time in our modern economic history, we've managed to sustain relatively rapid economic growth for that long. And then COVID-19 came.
July 27, 2020
Basic education schools in the Philippines are scheduled to open no later than August 24, 2020 with a major difference - there will be no face-to-face classes in areas where the COVID-19 pandemic infection rate is high and limited face-to-face classes elsewhere.
That means that education services will take place in one of 4 ways: (a) Face-to-face; (b) Distance learning; (c) Blended learning; and (d) Homeschooling.
There are a number of daunting challenges that need to be addressed and overcome for distance education to be efficiently and effectively delivered
Read more: https://opinion.inquirer.net/132070/when-work-from-home-wont-work
NO FREE LUNCH: When work from home won't work
July 24, 2020
A new study in the growing economic literature on WFH suggests so. This is because the occupations that lend themselves to WFH, hence less affected by the lockdowns imposed in most pandemic-hit countries, are not the occupations of the more disadvantaged groups in society.
That is, white-collar jobs are more likely to persist under WFH arrangements, but blue-collar or menial jobs-jobs held mostly by the poorer segments of society-cannot.
With 7.25 million Filipino workers rendered jobless as of April and unemployment hitting close to one in every five workers (17.7 percent), the already dire employment situation could take a long while to return to what we've been accustomed to. And the less workers are able to continue their jobs working from home, the more difficult it would be for them to restore normalcy in their lives.