MANILA – Despite the pandemic-induced blow to the economy, Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo on Wednesday echoed the sentiment of economic managers that the country’s economy will bounce back.

Panelo made this remark after President Rodrigo Duterte, in a recent speech, admitted that the country’s economy is “in bad shape”, but the government is doing its best to stay afloat.

“Sabi nga ni [Trade] Secretary Mon Lopez at [Finance] Secretary Sonny Dominguez,makaka-ahon din po tayo diyan. When you’re down, there is no other way but up. Bagsak tayo pero tatayo tayo dahan-dahan. At pag tayo’y nakatayo na, at nagkaroon na tayo ng pakpak, o e di (As Secretary Mon Lopez and Secretary Sonny Dominguez said, we will recover. When you’re down, there is no other way but up. We’re down now, but we’ll get back up slowly. And when we finally get up and get wings) we will be soaring high,” he said in commentary show Counterpoint aired on state-run PTV-4

Following the reopening of the businesses amid eased quarantine restrictions, he assured that the government is also balancing economic growth as well as the health and safety of all citizens.

“Huwag ho tayo mawawalan ng pag-asa (Let’s not lose hope),” he added.

Citing National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) chief Karl Chua, he noted that the government is confident that the Philippines will graduate to the upper-middle income country status by the end of the Duterte administration in 2022.

“Ang ibig niyang sabihin, kahit na tayo ay pinaluhod nitong pandemiya, meron tayong goal makararating tayo diyan. Pati nga yung poverty natin, papa iksian natin yung bilang ng mga mahihirap (What he means is, even the pandemic forced us to be on our knees, we have this goal we plan to reach. We also plan to alleviate poverty),” he said.

He pointed out that the country was able to reduce poverty until the coronavirus health crisis came and led to job losses.

Economic amendments

Meanwhile, Panelo also expressed support to legislative efforts to make economic amendments to the country’s charter, noting that there are currently restrictions that impede the country’s economic growth and progress.

On Tuesday, the House committee on constitutional amendments voted to adopt Resolution of Both Houses (RH) No. 2 where the phrase “unless otherwise provided by law” would be added to the constitutional restrictions that limit the participation of foreign investors in the governing body of entities based on their proportionate share in the capital.

This means lawmakers would be able to use legislation to lift the current prohibitions on foreign investors.

Panelo said he agreed with Dominguez that while restrictive economic provisions should be eased, the ban on foreign ownership of land in the country should remain.

“Huwag natin pag-ariin ng lupa kasi hindi naman kailangan. Puwede mo pahabain ang lease, pero yungownership huwag (Let’s not let foreigners own land. We can lease the land for a longer period, but not ownership),” he said.

Members of the opposition rejected legislative efforts to resume talks on Charter change in the middle of a pandemic.

But Panelo said that Congress should not only focus on legislation to boost the government’s Covid-19 response, but also discussions on Cha-cha.

“You cannot be hostage to this pandemic forever. We can focus on responses to this pandemic but at the same time we can also discuss other concerns of the state,” he said. (PNA)