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By Krixia Sub­ing­sub­ing

Ban­ning buses and jeep­neys af­ter the na­tional cap­i­tal shifts to a gen­eral com­mu­nity quar­an­tine (GCQ) will be “cat­a­strophic” for an econ­omy on the verge of a cri­sis, a trans­port econ­o­mist warned on Wed­nes­day.

Jedd Ugay, chair of the com­muter group Alt­mo­bil­ity PH, was re­act­ing to a rec­om­men­da­tion made on Tues­day by the 17 may­ors com­pris­ing the Metro Manila Coun­cil to re­lax quar­an­tine reg­u­la­tions but con­tinue to re­strict pub­lic trans­porta­tion in the na­tion’s po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic cen­ter.

“We think it’s a cat­a­strophic level be­cause it’s an im­pend­ing eco­nomic cri­sis,” Ugay told the In­quirer.

“You can­not re­sume the econ­omy without mo­bil­ity. If there is no pub­lic trans­port and no ded­i­ca­tion for ac­tive trans­port, many will lose their jobs or suf­fer wage cuts be­cause they would be com­ing in late for work,” he said.

“In terms of the gross do­mes­tic prod­uct, a big chunk of pro­duc­tiv­ity will be lost, and of course there will also be the is­sue of in­come in­equal­ity be­cause many will lose their jobs,” Ugay said. “The poor will again be vul­ner­a­ble in this sit­u­a­tion.”

Ugay cited a study by Movea­sone, a na­tion­wide trans­port coali­tion, that said around 1.49 mil­lion peo­ple would be af­fected by the lack of pub­lic trans­port in Metro Manila. About 20 per­cent, or 298,800, stand to lose their jobs per­ma­nently be­cause of re­stricted mo­bil­ity.

That would re­sult in P504 mil­lion in eco­nomic losses per day, ac­cord­ing to the study. This doesn’t even take into ac­count the 107,309 trans­port-re­lated jobs (bus and jeep­ney driv­ers, among oth­ers), that could be lost be­cause of the ban, Ugay said.

These are just con­ser­va­tive as­sump­tions, he warned.

The full report in today’s issue of the Philippine Day Inquirer