By The Editors

Defining the new normal and ways forward

How was the “new normal” derived?

The Inter-Agency Technical Working Group (TWG) for Anticipatory and Forward Planning (AFP) consulted various government agencies and private organizations and undertook an online public consultation, which ran from April 4 to April 7 and participated by 5,583 respondents. The online survey, composed of open-ended questions, was designed to obtain the stakeholders’ views on the characterization of the new normal and the perceived challenges that it will entail.

How is the new normal characterized?

The new normal is characterized into the following aspects:

  1. Political
  2. Economic
  3. Social
  4. Technology
  5. Environment
  6. Legal

What is emphasized in the political aspect of the new normal?

  • National and local governments have come to realize the importance of having a registry containing information on residence, demographic characteristics, occupation, if in need of special attention, etc. There will then be increased demand for the acceleration of the Philippine Identification System (PhilSys) implementation.
  • For purposes of planning, should a targeted lockdown be imposed on a barangay or municipality, statistics on the socioeconomic characteristics of the population in that geographical unit should be available. There will then be increased demand for a finer breakdown of official data.

What is emphasized in the Macroeconomic aspect of the new normal?

  • Reduced revenues and higher spending due to the crisis are expected to raise the budget deficit to at least 5 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) in 2020 with a gradual consolidation in the medium term.
  • Trade is seen to slow down, with traders relying more on online processing of trade documents to facilitate seamless movement of cargo. The World Trade Organization estimates that world merchandise trade would fall between 13 percent and 32 percent in 2020 alone.

What is emphasized in the economic aspect aspect of the new normal specifically on the production sectors?

  • Agri-food supply chain disruptions are expected to persist, particularly in the transport and logistics system of inputs, machineries and equipment, and farm produce.
  • On the production side, there will be an increased demand for modern agricultural machineries and equipment in lieu of manual labor, given the need to limit movement of people.
  • The pandemic will also cause a shift in consumer preferences for healthier diets, which will increase demand for safe and nutritious food.
  • The expected reduction in tourism and dine-in services will result in reduced demand for agricultural food items from these establishments.
  • The most affected commodities are expected to be the income-elastic such as food, like meat and high-value cash crops. On the other hand, there may be higher demand for agro-industrial products like rubber (for making gloves and personal protective equipment), fiber (for making masks, etc.), and raw materials for soap and disinfectants.

What is emphasized in the Macroeconomic aspect of the new normal?

  • Reduced revenues and higher spending due to the crisis are expected to raise the budget deficit to at least 5 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) in 2020 with a gradual consolidation in the medium term.
  • Trade is seen to slow down, with traders relying more on online processing of trade documents to facilitate seamless movement of cargo. The World Trade Organization estimates that world merchandise trade would fall between 13 percent and 32 percent in 2020 alone.

What is emphasized in the economic  aspect of the new normal specifically on the production sectors?

  • Agri-food supply chain disruptions are expected to persist, particularly in the transport and logistics system of inputs, machineries and equipment, and farm produce.
  • On the production side, there will be an increased demand for modern agricultural machineries and equipment in lieu of manual labor, given the need to limit movement of people.
  • The pandemic will also cause a shift in consumer preferences for healthier diets, which will increase demand for safe and nutritious food.
  • The expected reduction in tourism and dine-in services will result in reduced demand for agricultural food items from these establishments.
  • The most affected commodities are expected to be the income- elastic food, like meat and high-value cash crops. On the other hand, there may be higher demand for agro-industrial products like rubber (for making gloves and personal protective equipment), fiber (for making masks, etc.), and raw materials for soap and disinfectants.

What is emphasized in the economic aspect aspect of the new normal specifically on industry and services?

  • NEDA’s initial estimates show that the economy will have zero growth and possibly register a decline as many businesses have stopped operations and find it difficult to cope with the losses.
  • In the manufacturing sector, production of merchandise goods will favor essential goods particularly food, medicine, medical and pharmaceutical products, and other essential goods mostly related to efforts to contain the outbreak.
  • In many instances, part of the new normal means working and interacting virtually instead of face-to-face. Workspaces (e.g., factories and office spaces) will need to be re-configured to address the need for physical distancing.
  • E-commerce will play a big role in the new normal scenario as businesses and consumers increase the use of online transactions, including the expanded use of cashless payment system and other financial technology platforms.

What is emphasized in the social aspect of the new normal?

  • Social activities will remain limited by the need to practice physical distancing. Wearing of masks and bringing of hand sanitizers and alcohol will be the norm.
  • Mass gatherings will continue to be restricted or discouraged and areas that become easily crowded will be strictly monitored.
  • Schools will likely remain closed, with the reopening date very uncertain. In any case, most students in elementary and high school are still on vacation. There will also be clamor for more virtual classes.
  • Most definitely, there will be increased demand for health services. Even after the COVID-19 is placed under control, health-seeking behavior of Filipinos is expected to improve.

What is emphasized in the technology aspect of the new normal?

  • Interest in using advances in medical science will be intensified in the new normal. There will be greater efforts to find ways to manage pandemic situations. There will be increased demand for health-related technologies.
  • With companies, schools, and government agencies implementing work from home arrangements, the use of digital technology will increase significantly. In addition, business transactions such as online retail, online banking, online medical consultations, and digital payments, will increasingly become a necessity rather than for convenience.

What is emphasized in the legal aspect of the new normal?

  • The following laws may be invoked as measures during the pandemic:
    • The Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Concern Act to address concerns on health, health care workers, and supplies (Republic Act No. 11332);
    • The Price Act (RA 7581 as amended by RA 10623);
    • The Universally Accessible Cheaper and Quality Medicines Act (RA 9502) on availability of goods and services
    • The Government Procurement Reform Act (RA 9184) and Government Procurement Policy Board Resolution No. 03-2020 on government procurement during a state of public health emergency; and
    • The Local Government Code (RA 7160) on coordination between national government and local government units.
  • The scale and severity of the pandemic has also justified government’s restriction of some of our fundamental freedoms, particularly of movement and of expression.
  • While the Data Privacy Act of 2012 (RA 10173) is in place, it should be assessed if the law is enough to address these valid concerns.

TRANSITION TO THE NEW NORMAL AND WAYS FORWARD

The new normal is broken down into relevant concerns of the government such as but not limited to the following:

  1. Economic development;
  2. Governance and crosscutting concerns;
  3. Social development; and
  4. Environmental and natural resources.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

What is the effect of COVID-19 in our economic system?

The effect of COVID-19 in our economic system is that there would be a projected high deficit for 2020 and 20201. Because of the projected decline in government revenues and muted economic activities, together with other external factors, it is expected to put pressure on the country’s fiscal position for the succeeding years, particularly on the: (i.) Fiscal sector; (ii.) Monetary and financial sector; (iii.) and External sector.

 

What are some of the Priority Policies and Strategies on the Fiscal sector?

The Priority policies and strategies can be summarized into 6 distinct points:

  1. Realign expenditure priorities;
  2. Anticipate potential realization of contingent liabilities;
  3. Explore all multilateral and market financing options;
  4. Communicate the recovery plan;
  5. Promote co-financing between the national government and local government units; and
  6. Establish digital taxation framework
PRIORITY POLICY AND STRATEGY SALIENT POINTS
Realign expenditure priorities National government agencies (NGAs) would have to realign expenditure priorities to facilitate the transition and adjustment to the “new normal.” For 2021, the list of Build Build Build projects can be revisited to give priority to crucial and shovel-ready projects, to provide more space for relevant health-related expenditures.
Anticipate potential realization of contingent liabilities Given the persistence of uncertainty in global and domestic conditions, it is prudent to provide ample allowance for potential realization of contingent liabilities, or the potential loss that may be incurred in the future depending on the outcome of a specific event, in this case, the COVID-19 pandemic.
Explore all multilateral and market financing options The national government will explore various options, including from multilateral institutions (e.g., World Bank, Asian Development Bank). The Bureau of the Treasury also plans to tap the local market through local bonds issuance and the offshore commercial markets through issuance of dollar-denominated debt papers, “panda” bonds, and “samurai” bonds. Increased risk aversion of investors, however, can lead to an increase in borrowing costs.
Communicate the recovery plan To manage market expectations and ensure stability, the national government should carefully and clearly communicate its recovery plan, as well as the temporary nature of the deviation from the medium-term fiscal program.
Promote co-financing between the national government and LGUs Cost-sharing schemes between the NG and LGUs for response measures that are local in nature but may benefit multiple LGUs (e.g., setting up of local biosafety laboratories, foodbanks, and trading centers) should be explored. This can also help facilitate synergy in the implementation of national and local measures.
Establish digital taxation framework With the expected shift of the private sector to online transactions, the government needs to establish a digital taxation framework. There is also a need to invest in digital taxation infrastructure.

What are some of the problems we could face on the Monetary and financial sector?

Some of the problems we could face on these sectors are:

  1. Tightening in domestic liquidity;
  2. Higher non-performing loans in the banking sector;
  3. Possibility of defaults;
  4. Increased demand for online banking and other financial transactions; and
  5. Increased demand for insurance products
POSSIBLE PROBLEMS SALIENT POINTS PRIORITY POLICIES AND STRATEGIES
Tightening in domestic liquidity The deterioration of balance sheets of firms and households may lead to tighter lending standards of banks. At the same time, rising risk aversion of investors may cause an elevated outflow of capital, leading to tighter liquidity. Adopt an accommodative monetary stance

 

Encourage banks to use capital and liquidity buffers

 

Conduct stress-testing and improve the liquidity risk management practices of regulated entities

 

Disclose possibility of delay in payments and contracts with cross-default provisions by issuers of corporate bonds

 

Strengthen infrastructures for and regulation of online financial services

 

Strengthen financial inclusion by leveraging on financial technology

 

Strengthen information and education campaign on insurance policies

Higher non-performing loans in the banking sector Business establishments may not be able to fulfill their loan obligations. Worse, rising unemployment may likewise lead to defaults in consumer loans.
Possibility of defaults Decline in value of financial assets and real property, on top of operational losses may lead to the deterioration of capital of firms, including banks and insurance companies.
Increased demand for online banking and other financial transactions As economic transactions shift to online platforms, the demand for online payment, savings, investment, and other financial services will rise as well.
Increased demand for insurance products Mainly because of the increase in infections and fatalities caused by the pandemic.

What are some of the problems we could face with respect to the External sector?

There are 2 main problems we could face in this sector: First, problems with the overall contraction in global trade; and an increased volatility of capital flows.

How can we remedy these problems?

PRIORITY POLICY AND STRATEGY SALIENT POINTS
Fast track the implementation of TradeNet Implementation of tradenet can aid in reducing the cost of engaging in trade and facilitating movement of cargo through online processing and inter-agency certification to ensure the authenticity of digital documents.
Establish crisis communication management system between exporters, importers, and the government A registry or database of importers and traders needs to be developed for the easy issuance of permits and passes. An integrated website that tracks real time information on cargo release, availability of supply, production, and inventory could also be explored between the NG, LGUs, and the private sector.
Revive discussions in regional forums on the possibility of developing regional stockpiling of essential goods Response to the crisis through regional cooperation is deemed more effective versus countries working in harmful silos. This can start with developing regional stockpiling of essential goods.
Scale up and diversify products to minimize vulnerability and take advantage of opportunities for shift in business processes and consumer preferences There is opportunity for the country with respect to possible shift or focus on electronic products and equipment that will be part of the value chain for production of robots or installation of Artificial Intelligence in various systems.
Enforce strict implementation of phytosanitary protocols to ensure that regulated and prohibited cargoes will not be able to enter the country To ensure that our territory remains safe against trade of wildlife species that may be the host of various diseases, strengthened monitoring should be undertaken. Moreover, issuance of appropriate administrative orders that would reiterate strict compliance with established rules and impose higher penalties in case of violation should also be instituted.
Maintain adequate foreign exchange reserves and market-determined exchange rate. To cushion the impact of sharp peso movements, monetary authorities will maintain a healthy level of foreign exchange reserves as a buffer;

 

PRODUCTION SECTORS

What are the kinds of production sectors?

The kinds of production sectors refer to: (i.) Agriculture and Fishery sectors; (ii.) The Industry, particularly in the Manufacturing sector, the Micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs); and the (iii.) Services sector.

What is the effect of the pandemic in the Production Sectors?

As for the Agriculture and Fishery sector (A&F), the new normal calls for a heightened policy focus on food security. More efforts are required to ensure availability, accessibility, and affordability of safe and nutritious food. As it is, the capability of local producers to supply the needs of the market is already limited by the current state of the A&F sector, characterized by inefficient logistics systems, inadequate provision of support services, and low levels of farm mechanization. On the demand side, the challenges will dwell more on meeting the rising demand for safe and nutritious food caused by the shift in consumer preference for healthier diets.

What are our remedies regarding A&F?

Challenges on both the supply and demand sides arising from changes in producer and consumer behavior need to be addressed to meet the country’s food requirements during and after the public health crisis. Policy actions and strategies for 2020 to 2021 must focus on addressing supply chain disruptions and improving the productivity of the sector to meet the demand of the populace. Thus, we must:

  1. Ensure unhampered movement of A&F goods and services through efficient transport and logistics systems;
  2. Intensify provision of support services and farm machineries and equipment;
  3. Strengthen online marketing of agricultural produce;
  4. Ensure safety of food and agricultural products supplied in the market
  5. Intensify research and development (R&D) for agricultures; and
  6. Promote adoption of urban agricultures, backyard/household gardening of edibles and community farming.

INDUSTRY SECTOR

The industry sector will face significant slowdown in growth especially for non-essential goods. Supply chain disruptions also pose a challenge as some raw and intermediate materials are being imported from countries similarly hit by COVID-19. Under the new normal scenario, the challenge for the manufacturing sector is redirecting production to increase supply of essential goods and intermediate inputs

What are the possible solutions?

  1. Establish a registry of firms engaged in the manufacture of essential goods;
  2. Include activities in the Investment Priorities Plan that are critical for the supply of essential goods and construction and rehabilitation of health facilities, and explore the possible granting of incentives such as tax breaks as necessary;
  3. Conduct an inventory, for possible scale-up, on the existing DOST-approved manufacturing technologies in prolonging food shelf-life;
  4. Adopt digital technologies in the construction sector, particularly modular designs and structural specifications that can be replicated across the country;
  5. Provide incentives to construction companies who will prioritize building isolation or temporary hospitals for suspected and probable cases of COVID-19. Tax breaks may be provided to compliant companies;
  6. Allow movement of essential “energy personnel” to facilitate the maintenance and rehabilitation of infrastructures related to electricity;
  7. Strictly enforce existing policies on permit processing; and
  8. Encourage the importation of petroleum products to ensure ample supply, against the backdrop of declining world oil prices.

On MSMEs

Micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), which comprise the majority of businesses operating in the country, are also among the most affected by the COVID-19 crisis. Cash flow constraints resulting in increased debt, difficulty in covering overhead cost, as well as supply chain interruptions are the major problems experienced by MSMEs. Under the new normal environment, there will be an increasing need for MSMEs to undertake business continuity planning and capacity building.

Thus, to remedy the situation, here are some of the priority policies and strategies:

  1. Encourage banks to provide financial relief to companies affected by national emergencies by relaxing certain requirements and suspending the imposition of non-interest fees and charges on loans they incurred to help reestablish cash flow;
  2. Encourage loan moratorium programs for MSME borrowers and partner financial institutions;
  3. Develop mechanisms for real estate lessors and financial institutions to extend grace periods on payment commitments of MSMEs; and
  4. Build MSMEs’ resilience through capacity building on formulating and implementing business continuity plans (BCPs).

What are the challenges facing the Services sector?

The backbone of domestic and global industries will continue to take a hit from the pandemic. From the travel bans imposed by countries to arrest the spread of the virus and the subsequent slowdown of the global economy, to the imposition of the ECQ, these occurrences brought the country’s economic activity almost to a halt. Coming out of this pandemic requires establishment of new protocols and better programs.

As such, the call for E-commerce will be rampant more than ever to prevent a possible spread of the pandemic. However, online transactions will definitely pose a challenge for both consumers and merchants. Evidently, more supermarkets and restaurants will now engage in online shopping platforms or integrate delivery services into their operations. Further, an increase in demand for alternative modes to facilitate shopping through personal assistance such as pabili, pasa-BUY, or MyKuya services will be seen.

What then are the policies and strategies relating to the services sector?

COMMUNICATIONS
STRATEGY SALIENT POINTS
Hasten growth of e-commerce (internet transactions) by focusing on speed, security, and structure to increase sales.

 

Establish necessary policies, advocacy, awareness campaigns, payment system, and infrastructure to support its growth.

 

Develop protocols in the transport and sale of agricultural products to satellite markets in communities

 

(e.g., pamilihang pangbarangay o talipapa) to avoid congestion in public markets.

 

Promote collaboration between restaurant owners and delivery service providers To help food establishment owners who cannot afford to integrate delivery services in their operations, and support entry of new players in the delivery services sector.
Promote and regulate alternative modes to facilitate shopping through personal assistance services

 

 

This will be done by DTI and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board. Protection of both buyers and those delivering the service must be ensured
Ensure collaboration between relevant implementing agencies and LGUs to organize and promptly dispatch or mobilize “rolling stores” that sell basic necessities and prime commodities. Though this, LGUs can set up public markets within strategic cluster areas to disperse consumer traffic. Post-pandemic, this new type of store can be turned over and operated by the private sector and regulated by LGUs to make it permanent and sustainable.

 

FINANCIAL SERVICES: CASHLESS SOCIETY

a major challenge seen is the readiness of the country’s financial system to adopt digital currency, influx of cashless payment systems, and possible deregulation of financial transactions.

 

TRANSPORT AND LOGISTICS
What would be the preferred mode of payment in commercial transactions?
Online and other forms of cashless transactions would be a priority in commerce in the new environment. In this regard, the Government will encourage financial institutions to invest in digital infrastructure and implement better cybersecurity measures and regulations for consumers and merchants/establishments.

 

The proposed implementation of the Philippine ID System to consider tie-ups with digital payment systems such as PayMaya and GCash, among others.

What about Transport and Logistics matters? Would there be a resumption of public transportation?
The resumption of public transportation is contigent. The Government recognizes that ensuring the efficient transport of goods and people, will lead to increased demand for vehicles on the road. On the other hand, for international travel, immigration controls will be stricter and health checks will be carried out frequently. On logistics, consumers and businesses will expect increased use of paperless transactions, as well as a seamless, uninterrupted supply chain that is efficient and reliable.
STRATEGY SALIENT POINTS
Encourage financial institutions to invest in digital infrastructures

 

To implement better cybersecurity measures and regulations for consumers and merchants.
Revisit proposed implementation of the Philippine ID System

 

To consider tie-ups with digital payment systems such as PayMaya and GCash.
Revive the implementation of requiring arriving passengers to electronically fill out a Health Declaration Form in airports and seaports. Establish stricter protocols in airports and seaports to include handling of persons suspected of having infectious diseases.

 

Strict enforcement Refers to temperature checks in terminals, queue markings for physical distancing, mandatory wearing of masks, and allowed passenger capacities of public transportation, especially of buses and jeeps, must be carried out.

 

Reduce passenger load factor

 

shifting to a service contract-based provision of public transport services. Possible subsidies should be explored to support financial viability of the program. The Department of Transportation (DOTr) should also require public vehicle manufacturers to design modern vehicles that conform to the new physical distancing norm.

TOURISM SECTOR

What will happen to our tourism industry?

We will promote great destinations with the highest sanitary standards. There would be a heightened need for regular sanitation/disinfection of accommodation, tourism-related establishments, tourist transport services, as well as a stable provision of sanitation/disinfecting devices in these establishments, need to be implemented.

Will the Government set a new standard for tourism enterprises?

Yes. There will be an amendment of the National Accreditation Standards for all tourism enterprises (primary and secondary tourism enterprises) to include additional measures related to sanitation, disinfection, promotion of proper hygiene, and responsible information sharing.

IT-BPM Sector

Will the Government impose a mandatory Work-from-home (WFH) arrangement across enterprises in the IT-BPM Sector?

No. However, WFH will still be encouraged. Enterprises will be advised to adopt a last mile connectivity for WFH, and/or possible alternative working arrangements in expanded areas of operations.

Which Government agency has jurisdiction to set guidelines for Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) locators and registered companies?

DTI, PEZA, and Board of Investments will issue a Joint Memorandum, allowing PEZA locators and registered companies to pull out equipment without imposing tax or duty during times of national emergencies, where WFH schemes are being enforced or for purposes of donation and providing assistance.

FUNERAL EXPENSES

Should we expect any change in funeral services?

Yes. Expect an increased demand for cremation services in the new environment. Government will ensure proper interment of pandemic victims while carrying out the required health and sanitary protocols.

Which Government Agency would be responsible for each sector?

For the rest of 2020 Responsible Agencies and Units
RETAIL & E-COMMERCE

i.           Establish warehouses, including cold chain facilities, for stockpiling of basic necessities in strategic areas per region

 

 

 

DTI, DA, LGUs

 

TRANSPORT

i.              Review DOTr’s remaining budget for the Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program (PUVMP) in 2020 and allocate funds to allow for regulatory shift towards industry consolidation and service contract–based provision of public transport service

 

 

 

 

 

DOTr

 

TOURISM

i.              Provide training funds for Department of Tourism-Office of Tourism Standards and Regulation (DOT-OSTR) personnel, Regional Accreditation Officers, and tourism frontliners on sanitation standards and incident command protocol, including protocols and coordination with appropriate government agencies

 

ii.   Procure PPEs for DOT-OSTR and Regional Accreditation Officers

 

 

 

 

 

 

DOT, DOH, LGUs

 

 

 

 

 

 

DOT

 

For 2021
RETAIL & E-COMMERCE

i.              Secure funding for e-commerce programs initiatives

ii.             Increase LGU allocation for warehouse and/or cold chain facility

iii.            Increase advocacy on better sanitation/hygiene measures in retail establishments

 

 

 

DTI, DICT

 

 

DTI, DA, LGUs

 

 

DTI, LGU

FINANCIAL SERVICES

i.              Secure funding for increased training among related institutions on digital transactions and services as well as cybersecurity measures

 

 

 

DTI, DICT, BSP

 

TRANSPORT

i.              Purchase high-end temperature scanners and disinfectants to be placed in major international airports and domestic ports across the country for mandatory inbound and outbound temperature screening of passengers; Allocate or propose budget for medical clinics and personnel equipped to handle sick passengers; disinfection materials must be also purchased for all public transportation

ii.             Implement the Metro Manila Route Rationalization Study under the PUVMP in priority areas

iii.            Allot funds for procurement of relevant IEC materials and supplies for distribution to accredited establishments, such as medical/hygienic kits, disinfectant kits for tourism transport vehicles, among others.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DOTr, DOH

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DOTr

 

 

 

 

 

DOT, DOTr, DOH

TOURISM

i.              Allocate bouncing-back fund for the Re-Start Up Program for MSMEs and community-based organizations from the Tourism Development Fund or Trust Liability Account /Special Projects Review Committee

 

 

 

 

 

DOT

IT-BPM

i.              Allocate budget for re-skilling and up-skilling of workforce in the IT-BPM industry

 

 

 

DTI, DOLE

What are the policies to be implemented by and for LGUs?

  1. Empower LGUs, starting at the barangay level, and strengthen their capacities as first responders and frontline service delivery units;
  2. Empower LGUs, starting at the barangay level, and strengthen their capacities as first responders and frontline service delivery units;
  3. Initiate the formulation of a national preparedness and response framework for disease outbreaks and pandemics;
  4. Fast-track the implementation of programs for ICT-enabled government to ensure greater public reach and safer, protected, and reliable ICT; and
  5. Build the public’s trust and confidence to enable a whole-of-society response and recovery to the pandemic.

SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT

Health: Continuing threat of COVID-19

What are the specific health related priority policies and strategies?

The following are the priority policies and strategies:

  • Improve health care facilities.
  • Improve epidemiological and surveillance capacities
  • Improve the status and supply of Human Resources for Health (HRH)
  • Ensure full Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) coverage of emerging or reemerging diseases.
  • Intensify public health education campaign, including effective risk communication
  • Institute a fully-integrated health systems database
  • Strengthen and expand telehealth system
  • Ensure the supply of medical commodities.

What are the specific health related priority programs and projects of the government?

The following are the priority policies and projects of the government with identified responsible agencies:

Program Description Responsible Agencies
For the rest of 2020
Operational budgets of government hospitals, DOHespecially those involved in COVID-19 treatment, prevention, and control of other infectious diseases; emergency preparedness and response; and Quick Response Fund DOH
Increase the operational budget of the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) University of the Philippines- PGH
For 2021
Expand spending on medical infrastructure: new hospitals, health, and critical care facilities, laboratories, as well as acquisition of medical equipment, medevac and ambulance vehicles, and stockpiling of PPEs, test kits, medicines, vaccines, etc. DOH, LGUs
Sustain budget for regular health programs (e.g., Immunization Program, Maternal, Newborn and Child health, Tuberculosis, HIV-AIDS, Family Planning, etc.) DOH, LGUs
Incentivize, subsidize, and support researchers and research institutions who will engage in research and development related to development of test kits, medical equipment, vaccines, medicine, and others. DOST-Philippine Council for Health Research and Development, Commission on Higher Education (CHED), higher education institutions
Increase budget to improve health data systems (Unified Health Data Dashboard for disease surveillance and monitoring; and Health Information Exchange) DOH, LGU
Sustain budget for indigents under PhilHealth to cover emerging or re- emerging diseases PhilHealth
Draft the National HRH Masterplan, the long-term strategic plan for the management and development of HRH to include contingency plans for national public health emergencies (i.e., recruitment for medical reservists), and the National Health Workforce Registry DOH
Ensure budget for the implementation of the UHC Law and First 1000 Days DOH, PhilHealth, National Nutrition Council

What are the proposed health related legislative actions?

  • Passage of a comprehensive law strengthening the national response and preparedness for health emergencies and pandemics (similar to Senate Bill No. 1573 filed by the late Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago).
  • Revisit salient provisions of the NDRRM Act (RA 10121) on increasing contingency budget for the management of health-related concerns.
  • Review the Magna Carta of Health Workers toward increasing benefits and ensuring that these benefits are received.

Social Protection: Increasing vulnerable groups’ access to social services

What are the specific priority policies and strategies with regard to social protection?

The following are the priority policies and strategies with regard to social protection:

  • Fast-track implementation of and registration to the Philippine Identification System (PhilSys)
  • Develop a registry of vulnerable persons and groups
  • Explore the possibility of automatic and universal release of aid
  • Promote savings mobilization

What are the specific social protection priority programs and projects of the government?

The following are the priority policies and projects of the government with identified responsible agencies:

Program Description Responsible Agencies
For the rest of 2020
Various programs: Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situations, distribution of food and non-food items, livelihood assistance grants, and supplemental feeding for daycare children DSWD, LGUs
Quick Response Funds DSWD
Integration of savings mobilization as a component of all social protection programs DSWD
For 2021
Provision of automated teller machine cards to senior citizens DSWD, LGUs

What are the proposed legislative actions related to social protection?

Passage of the Universal Basic Income during Pandemics or Social Amelioration Act.

Education: Adoption of flexible and blended learning

What are the specific education related priority policies and strategies?

The following are the priority policies and strategies with regard to education:

  • Expansion of flexible learning options
  • Expedite the formulation of a multi-modal, multi-strategy Learning Continuity Plan
  • Pursue adult learning through online and/or blended learning
  • Investments on improving existing online platforms such as the DepEd Commons

What are the specific education related priority programs and projects of the government?

The following are the priority policies and projects of the government with identified responsible agencies

Program Description Responsible Agencies
For the rest of 2020
School-based feeding program DepEd
Improve existing online platforms DepEd, CHED, TESDA
Tap the ICT for the Alternative Learning System (ICT4ALS) Project of DepEd and UNICEF DepEd
Realign funds for teacher training to enable them to teach flexible learning options and blended learning DepEd, CHED, TESDA
For 2021
Develop learning and teaching modules for flexible learning options, and radio or TV classes, including e-learning materials (modularized for students, teachers, and parents) DepEd, CHED, TESDA
Provide communication allowance for teachers and StuFAP beneficiaries DepEd, CHED, TESDA
Expand the Government Assistance to Students and Teachers in Private Education (GATSPE) coverage to elementary DepEd
Expand DepEd’s Computerization Program DepEd
Develop a national e-learning platform (web-based and app-based) DepEd, CHED, TESDA, PRC, DICT
Increase budget for the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education and Technical-Vocational and Education and Training CHED, TESDA
Realign funds for the improvement of information technology (IT) infrastructure (both hardware and software) for the TESDA Online Program courses TESDA
Develop a Learning Management System to easily track learner progress and performance TESDA
Procure courses from other online institutions and develop future-ready courses in TESDA Online Program and MOOCs of higher education institutions (HEIs) TESDA, CHED

What are the proposed legislative actions related to education?

  • Enact the Alternative Learning System Bill (Senate Bill [SB] No. 740).
  • Enact the ICT in Education Bill (SB No. 594) to strengthen the use of ICT in elementary and high school.
  • Enact a legislation that would allow funding to support blended learning systems in public and private schools, as well as in HEIs.
  • Amend the proposed Reserve Officer Training Corps and/or tap Civic Welfare Training Service Program in HEIs to provide disaster-response and medic training option.

Labor and Employment

What are the specific labor related priority policies and strategies?

The following are the priority policies and strategies with regard to labor and employment:

  • Improve social protection programs and income support systems.
  • Retool the labor force – Skills retooling, through TESDA’s Massive Open Online Courses, Mobile Training Laboratories, and other flexible or blended training arrangements, needs to be promoted to improve the employability of displaced workers.
  • Issue standard guidelines on alternative work arrangements.
  • Formulate and revisit guidelines on the provision of hazard pay for workers in the private and public sectors.

What are the specific labor related priority programs and projects of the government?

The following are the priority policies and projects of the government with identified responsible agencies:

Program Description Responsible Agencies
For the rest of 2020
Conduct skills retooling programs through flexible and blended training arrangements to improve employability of displaced workers TESDA, DOLE
Tap and fast-track the implementation of the Tulong Trabaho Fund TESDA
Expand unemployment benefits to include temporarily laid off workers SSS
Expand awareness and coverage of the Employees Compensation Program Employees’ Compensation Commission, DOLE
For 2021
Improve social protection programs and income support systems through unemployment insurance, emergency employment, and wage subsidies SSS, DOLE
Conduct financial literacy programs for the vulnerable sector DOLE, PESOs
Issue training vouchers to individuals, which can be availed through institution-based, enterprise-based, or online modalities for the upskilling or retooling of learners and workers (similar to the Skills Future Singapore model) TESDA
Establish additional Mobile Training laboratories and equip all these laboratories with computers and internet connectivity TESDA

What are the proposed legislative actions related to labor and employment?

  • The five-day work week prescribed by the Labor Code would need to be amended, accompanied by more specific guidelines on the implementation of alternative work arrangements for both private and public sector.
  • The official definition and classification of “hazardous work” and “occupational hazards” in the Labor Code need to be revised relative to the current and emerging occupational hazards.
  • Equitable hazard allowance of public health workers across salary grades needs to be pursued.

Housing and Urban Development: Integrating public health goals

What are the specific housing related priority policies and strategies?

The following are the priority policies and strategies with regard to housing and urban development:

  • Incorporate hazard and health standards
  • Explore the inclusion of an open or public space
  • Review procedures to streamline the issuance of housing-related licenses, clearances, and permits in light of COVID-19.
  • Prioritize the implementation of the Housing Rental Subsidy Program for low-income ISFs and shoulder additional costs for moving ISFs into better housing conditions.

What are the specific housing related priority programs and projects of the government?

The following are the priority policies and projects of the government with identified responsible agencies:

Program Description Responsible Agencies
For 2021
Housing Rental Subsidy Program for low-income ISFs Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development, National Housing Authority

What are the proposed legislative actions related to housing and urban development?

Appropriation for alternative modes of provision of housing with adequate space (e.g., housing voucher, rental subsidy) for the low-income informal settlers.

Migration

The following are the priority policies and strategies with regard to migration:

  • Facilitate the employment of repatriated OFWs – Programs of DOST such as the Balik-Scientist Program and the Research and Development Lead, should facilitate the utilization of returnees’ expertise in their home region or province.
  • Enhance government financial support and legal assistance for repatriated OFWs – Financial and livelihood assistance, especially for online enterprises, e-commerce, and agriculture-related livelihood programs should be promoted.
  • Enhance health insurance and social security for OFWs. – The government needs to ensure the effective implementation of mandatory PhilHealth30 and SSS coverage among OFWs.

What are the specific migration related priority programs and projects of the government?

The following are the priority policies and projects of the government with identified responsible agencies:

Program Description Responsible Agencies
For the rest of 2020
Retooling of skills or upskilling for repatriates TESDA, National Reintegration Center for OFWs
Increased fund allocation for reintegration programs
For 2021
Increased budget of OFW-Enterprise Development and Loan Program OWWA, DOH
Budget for the deployment of more overseas officers to improve the ratio of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) officers vis-à-vis OFWs
Additional funding for repatriation assistance
Funding for migrant health programs, including mental health
Increased operating funds for welfare-related and emergency assistance programs/activities at posts

What are the proposed legislative actions related to Migration?

Revisit bills on health hazards and preparedness and on situating safeguards for Filipino migrants.

Environment and Natural Resources

  • There will be a potential high demand for (a) indigenous plants and animals for pharmaceutical use; (b) water supply for disinfection/sanitation purposes; and (c) wood and non-wood products for the construction of quarantine and shelter facilities.
  • Existing waste management facilities may also be overwhelmed by huge volume of wastes from health care facilities and households, while urban air quality may deteriorate post-ECQ, due to increased volume of private vehicles attributed to social distancing.

How will the management of health care and infectious wastes be streamlined?

The streamline of the management of health care and infectious wastes, especially at the community and household levels, will be done through:

  • Ensuring compliance of health care facilities and treatment technologies with the standards for hazardous waste management.
  • Modernizing and increasing the number of TSD facilities for hazardous healthcare wastes.
  • Improving disposal of healthcare wastes at the household or barangay level.
  • Supporting ancillary remedial actions to improve environmental health and mitigate climate change.

 

How will the government prioritize the protection and conservation of natural resources?

The government will prioiritize the protection and conservation of natural resources, especially in degradation hotspots and critical ecosystems, through:

  • Intensifying surveillance and enforcement activities to protect wildlife and their habitats.
  • Undertaking R&D on the utilization of natural resources for disease prevention and cure.
  • Intensifying agroforestry development.

What are the specific environment related priority programs and projects of the government?

The following are the priority policies and projects of the government with identified responsible agencies:

Program Description Responsible Agencies
For the rest of 2020
–          Provide training on health and safety measures (e.g., proper use of PPEs) for wildlife caretakers and waste collectors/handlers

–          Improve management of infectious wastes during COVID-19 outbreak (i.e., handling and treatment protocols or strategies to manage wastes during virus outbreaks)

–          Establish temporary containment, quarantine, or isolation facilities for infected hospitals wastes

–          Conduct mass media campaign on proper disposal and management of health care wastes, especially masks and gloves

–          Implement proper wildlife handling protocols during wildlife turnover to minimize the risk of transmission of diseases or viruses from wildlife to humans

DENR and DOH
For 2021
–          Implement a comprehensive bioprospecting and biotechnology program to facilitate discovery and development of novel compounds and derivatives for pharmaceutical purposes

–          Conduct R&D programs on: (a) capacity and needs assessment of health care facilities, especially government hospitals to manage health care wastes; (b) assessment of existing technologies or processes on waste storage and treatment to manage new viruses; and (c) early detection and rapid response to manage new viruses and other organisms, and its relationship to the environment

DENR, LGUs, and private sector.
–          Agroforestry development programs in COVID-19 affected rural communities to support food production and watershed protection

–          Biodiversity-friendly and sustainable alternative livelihood programs for local communities to avoid over-extraction of natural resources

–          Provide additional budget support for digital technologies or computer applications for forest management (surveying, mapping, and planning), including its knowledge management systems

DENR, DA, and DTI

What are the proposed legislative actions related to Migration?

  • Amend the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000 (RA 9003) to bridge the policy gap between municipal waste management and health care waste management by streamlining protocols on the management of hazardous wastes, particularly infectious wastes, at the community and household levels.
  • Amend environment-related laws such as RA Nos. 9003, 9275, 8749, and 6969 to provide higher penalties and stringent administrative measures to facilitate adjustment to inflation and maintain vigilance against future environmental offenses or non-compliance committed by small to large industries.
  • Amend the Wildlife Act (RA 9147) to strengthen mandatory quarantine protocols for confiscated animals and institute greater penalties for poaching, trade, and consumption of wild animals to prevent spread of zoonotic pathogens (e.g., bacteria and viruses).
  • Draft a bill to define and implement sanitary and phytosanitary measures to address possible entry of zoonotic infectious disease into the country (e.g., standards and protocols for crops, livestock, fisheries, and wildlife).

NEXT STEPS

What are the next steps identified in this report?

  • There must be a time frame, to be communicated well to the general public, wherein the country transitions to applying the more robust solution.
  • This report suggests a theme, “We Heal as One” to convey the message of solidarity, but more importantly, to bring the locus of control back to us – individuals, community, and society. The next step is to organize all of government around this message.
  • The next step is to assess the current set of assistance measures to determine if these are already adequate.
  • There is, however, the distinct acknowledgement that things will not go back to normal, even when the ECQ is lifted. Some forms of social distancing will still need to be implemented, along with very religious hygiene and sanitation protocols. Just these two conditions already define a new normal.
  • The next step is for each and every agency in government to validate the recommended list of policies and programs, activities, and projects (PAPs), and to formulate the action plan pertaining to each.
  • Some budget reprioritization may be needed to fund the PAPs that are recommended to be implemented in 2020. PAPs that are to be implemented in 2021 will need to be included in the 2021 National Expenditure Program.
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