COVID-19 lockdowns in Northern Mindanao render 2,700 workers jobless

CAGAYAN DE ORO (MindaNews / 29 June) — The economic slump brought by the tight lockdowns to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has left at least 2,700 workers jobless in Northern Mindanao, an economist said.

Also, at least 100,000 farmers in Misamis Oriental have been adversely affected by the pandemic, a provincial official said.

Leonila Cajarte, National Economic Development Authority – Region 10 (NEDA-10) assistant director, said that at least 48 firms in Northern Mindanao have closed shop sending 813 workers out of the streets without work.

Cajerte said another 15 firms have given notification that they will temporarily shutdown their operations, affecting 424 workers.

She also said that 103 other firms have lain off 1,409 workers to survive the economic crisis.

Bangko Sentral of the Philippines Gov. Benjamin Diokno said in Manila that the gross domestic product will shrink to 6.7 percent in the second quarter as lockdowns and other containment measures against the spread of COVID-19 stifled business and consumer spending.

The NEDA-10 estimated that P14 billion were lost in the three months of lockdown starting in March until May.

The Department of Public Works and Highways in Region 10 reported to the Northern Mindanao Inter-Agency Task Force that 542 infrastructure projects in the region totaling to P11 billion were either put on hold or suspended in the past three months.

The economic downturn during the COVID-19 pandemic also badly affected some 100,000 farmers in Misamis Oriental, said Apollo Pacamalan, chief of the Misamis Oriental Provincial Agriculture Research Office.

Pacamalan estimated the farmers lost between P300 to P400 million in income in the last three months,

“Small farmers in Misamis Oriental who used to earn an average of P8,000 to P9,000 monthly income saw their earnings dropped  to 30 to 40 percent or only P3,000 to P4,000 a month,” Pacamalan said.

Pacamalan said the local government of Misamis Oriental is buying vegetable and corn seeds to help farmers rise from the pandemic.