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Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Casualties of the Pandemic in the Philippines

Quarantine restrictions to General Community Quarantine (GCQ) make income generation a challenge

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George Buid
George Buidhttp://www.georgebuid.com/
An independent photojournalist of the Philippines capturing life as it passes by. He contributes to different news outlet and press publications.

PHILIPPINES. Unemployment went up to 17.7% in April 2020. An estimate of 7.3 million Filipinos lost their jobs because of the Covid-19 pandemic according to a report of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) on 5 June 5 2020.

Massive job loss across tourism sectors. A total of 2,150 airline employees were laid off by Cebu Pacific on 24 June 2020. Followed by 1,400 employees of 1Avation Groundhandling Services Corporation. Philippine Airlines had laid off 300 staff in February, and AirAsia Philippines will also lay off 260 employees by the end of June. In a National Geographic article, the World Travel and Tourism Council forecast a global loss of 75 million jobs and US$2.1 trillion of revenue. The US Travel Association projected a loss of 4.6 million jobs through May. This has affected food, travel, transportation, and tourism due to quarantine lockdowns and restrictions.

Chinese foriegner crossing the street with his trolley luggage.
Chinese foriegner wearing a facemasking crossing along the pedestrian lane with his trolley luggage. Image by George Buid ©2020
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The Philippines is projected to lose 520 billion pesos, according to Robert Siy, a public transport advocate and development economist. Trains, buses, taxis, and motorcycle sidecars (locally called tricycles) were the only public transportation allowed to operate. They are not enough to serve an estimated 2 million commuters in Metro Manila. The public utility jeeps, or the traditional jeepneys, were supposed to operate by 22 June. Instead, they are planned to operate this week either by July 2 or 3 according to the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB). The drivers of these jeeps are left with no income and begging on the streets.

Jeepney driver begging on the street.
A jeepney driver begging at the side of the street where the jeepneys are parked. Image by George Buid ©2020

In lifting the quarantine restrictions to General Community Quarantine (GCQ), businesses are struggling to generate revenue. This mostly affects small and medium businesses in different industries, from cafeterias to coffee shops, canteens to restaurants, and even live events and entertainment groups. There are not enough resources to comply with health protocols, and there is a lack of customers.

Street vendor hoping for a buyer
A street vendor waiting for a potential buyer at his clothing stall on the streets of Manila. Image by George Buid ©2018
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Freelancers most displaced by the pandemic. Professionals in the arts, fashion, lifestyle, entertainment, media, retail, and other sectors that support the finance and tourism of this country have taken the hardest hit. Freelancers lost an income of US$5,381,976.48 (₱268,661,175) as of 10 June (Ilostmygig.com). 5549 projects have been canceled with 4458 people affected. 

Philippine’s tourism revenue went down 35 percent. Compared to last year it earned US$2.65 billion (₱134 billion). Hit by the pandemic it only earned US$1.68 billion (₱85 billion), said Undersecretary Benito Bengzon in a televised public briefing. The reovovery will start with local tourism and then a move to allow foreign tourists to the country.

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