MANILA – Domestic travel amid the prevailing coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic may help lower the country’s unemployment rate, Malacañang said Thursday.
In a press briefing from Palawan, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made this statement after data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed that around 3.8 million Filipinos aged 15 years old and above are unemployed.
PSA said the figure is equivalent to an 8.7 percent unemployment rate in October, which is slightly lower than the 10 percent recorded in July and 17.6 percent in April this year.
Roque said Palace was saddened by the figure but noted that this is precisely why the government is pushing domestic travel to support tourism industry workers and businesses.
“Well, marami pa rin po ‘yan kaya nakakalungkot nga po ‘yan. Kaya nga po naging advocacy na natin na yung sa mga lugar na nagbubukas ng turismo dahil napakadali pong magbigay ng hanapbuhay sa turismo ay sinusuportahan po natin sa ating mga press briefing (We are saddened because that’s still a big number. That’s why our advocacy now is to promote places open for tourism because it is easy to provide jobs in tourism. That’s why we support this in our press briefings),” he said.
Since there is a need to balance health and economy, he said travelers should learn to live with the virus while waiting for a vaccine to be available in the market.
“Mahalaga po ang papel ng turismo sa pagbibigay ng trabaho sa ating mamamayan. Dahil rito narito tayo sa punto na kailangan natin matututunan na mamuhay na nandiyan ang virus (Tourism plays an important role in giving jobs to our citizens. Because of this, we have reached the point where we need to learn how to live with the virus),” he said.
He acknowledged that the unemployment rate improved since the government started reopening the economy.
“Totoo po ‘yan dahil na kaya po bahagyang bumaba ang numero ng mga walang trabaho dahil unti-unti po tayong nagbubukas (Indeed, the number of jobless Filipinos went down because we slowly started to reopen),” he added.
Roque has been traveling around the country to promote domestic travel using his own funds.
Last October, he visited Boracay, Aklan, and Panglao, Bohol.
“It’s mostly my personal funds, no kidding. Because I only have PHP800,000 budget since my predecessor obtained his budget and was using his budget from his other office,” he said.
Boracay, Baguio, and Siargao are currently open to local tourists with certain requirements such as the “test-before-travel” rule.
Palawan currently allows tourists under a “travel bubble” while Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur are open to tourists from Luzon.
Bohol plans to welcome travelers by the second week of December. (PNA)