The Economy Cluster of the Regional Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on COVID-19 was convened on 26 March 2020 to discuss measures to protect the economic interest of the region in the midst of the viral outbreak.

The meeting, chaired by NEDA VIII OIC-Regional Director Meylene Rosales, was conducted virtually in observance of precautionary measures and protocol on social distancing. Present were Regional Directors of member agencies such as the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of Tourism (DOT), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), and Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), and representatives of the Department of Energy (DOE), Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) and Office of Congressman Ferdinand Martin Romualdez of the First District of Leyte.

OIC-RD Rosales highlighted the tasks of the Economy Cluster, which are to: (1) ensure supply allocation and price control/freeze; (2) activate and monitor business continuity plans; (3) provide social welfare benefits for affected workers; and (4) provide recommendations to protect the economic interest of the region.

The cluster members shared actions taken on policy issuances of their respective agencies, initiatives concerning the Sector and issues/concerns/gaps and recommendations on COVID-19.

At the end of the discussion, the Economy Cluster came up with a recommendation to write the DILG VIII to issue a Memorandum Circular enjoining LGUs in the region to undertake the following recommended actions and further harmonize other local actions with policies, programs and projects of concerned national government agencies, to wit: (1) Activate the Local Price Coordinating Councils to ensure price freeze of commodities in the region pursuant to RA 7581 (Price Act); (2) Help monitor Anti-Hoarding and Anti-Panic Buying (DTI Memo Circular No. 20-07); (3) Activate PESO managers and engage the help of barangay officials in implementing the Tulong Panghanap Buhay sa Ating Displaced/Disadvantaged Workers Program (TUPAD) #Barangay Ko, Bahay Ko (#BKBK) Disinfecting/Sanitation Project of DOLE; and (4) Support national policies, programs and projects to mitigate COVID-19’s socio-economic impact (e.g., ensure food lanes and delivery of other essential goods are unhampered in their respective checkpoints, patronize/buy local agri products such as rice for institutional needs of the LGUs to ensure income of farmers/local producers).

The Economy Cluster was activated pursuant to National Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) Resolution No.12, Series of 2020, entitled “Recommendations for the Management of the Corona Virus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Situation” issued on 13 March 2020.

Article by:  Knulp Aseo, NEDA VIII
Photos by:  Mark G. Lomboy, NEDA VIII