Session 1 of Pilipinas Conference 2020: “Rebooting the Economy Post-Pandemic: Cushioning the Long Emergency”

Emerging as a public health crisis in China, the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has caused global economic turmoil as lockdowns and movement restrictions were imposed by countries around the world to contain the spread of the virus. These mobility restrictions disrupted the global supply chain and led to the slowdown of economic activity and widespread recession. 

Like many economies, the Philippines’ future has turned from promising at the start of 2020 to bleak and uncertain by midyear as the country’s major economic hubs, particularly the National Capital Region (NCR), were placed under extended periods of community quarantine. The country’s traditional growth drivers such as consumption, remittances and services all declined. Ultimately, the Philippines entered a technical recession in the second quarter of 2020 as the economy contracted by 16.5%, its lowest quarterly growth in decades. The government has also struggled in striking a balance between economic health and public health as policymakers provided relief measures and crafted a recovery plan. A survey conducted by the Social Weather Stations (SWS) in July 2020 found that 40% of adult Filipinos expect the economy to worsen in the next 12 months. Furthermore, both business and consumer confidence have declined, according to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP). 

However, the emergency situation brought upon by the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to persist in the next few years, in the absence of a vaccine. 

As in the past, crises also present opportunities. While Philippine economic growth has been traditionally consumption-led, this would be an opportune time to start shifting, albeit on a calibrated scale, to a more investment-led economy. During the present period of uncertainty, there is a need to tap into other sectors and change the national strategy in paving the way for sustainable growth through long-term investments. As the pandemic forces companies to diversify their supply chains to reduce their over-reliance on China, the epicenter of COVID-19, the situation creates an opportunity for the Philippines to attract the right foreign investors. With its inherent competitive edge, the Philippines can compete from a position of strength in global trade, particularly in terms of manufacturing, as well as to strengthen its role in the global supply chain. All these despite a recent World Economic Forum (WEF) report which showed that failure of national governance, spread of infectious diseases, and failure of critical infrastructure are some of the top perceived risks in doing business in the Philippines.

For now, the Philippines cannot return to its pre-pandemic normal. Undertaking sustainable initiatives like long-term investments contributes to inclusive growth, creating jobs, and providing stable incomes to the people as the country heads towards a “new normal”. Investments in healthcare and social protection will also go a long way in protecting the well-being of the people.

For these reasons, Stratbase ADR Institute organized a session in this year’s Pilipinas Conference to serve as a platform for thought leaders to share their outlook on the country’s economic recovery and sustained growth.


Welcoming Remarks
Amb. Albert del Rosario
Chairperson, Stratbase ADR Institute
Former Secretary, Department of Foreign Affairs

Part 1: Economic Outlook

The Philippine economy plunged into a recession as the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted what would have been an impressive long-term growth pattern.

Reviving the Philippine Economy
Dr. Ernesto Pernia
Former Secretary of Socioeconomic Planning,
National Economic and Development Authority;
Professor Emeritus, University of the Philippines School of Economics

Sustaining the Green Shoots Post-Pandemic
Mr. Diwa Guinigundo
Former Deputy Governor, Monetary and Economics Sector,
Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas

Two Proposals for a Resilient and Rapid Future Growth
Dr. Raul Fabella
National Academy of Science and Technology;
Professor Emeritus, University of the Philippines School of Economics

COVID-19: Navigating Inclusive Recovery Towards the New Normal
Dr. Ronald Mendoza
Dean, Ateneo School of Government (ASOG)

Part 2: Public Opinion: Surveys Amid the COVID-19 Emergency and Beyond

The general public bore the brunt of the unprecedented crisis brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. Understanding public opinion on the impact of this crisis will give policymakers a deeper appreciation of the urgent options that need to be undertaken.

Surveys on Inclusivity of Past and Future Trends in the Quality of Life
Dr. Mahar Mangahas
President, Social Weather Stations

Measuring the Public Pulse for a Robust Democracy
Dr. Ronald Holmes
President, Pulse Asia Research, Inc.

Closing Remarks
Prof. Dindo Manhit
President, Stratbase ADR Institute

Atty. Karen Jimeno
Former Undersecretary, Presidential Management Staff;
Chief Legal Counsel, SofCap Partners PE

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