THE Philippines, which has imposed the longest-lasting lockdown in the world, is now suffering from recession.
Webster’s Dictionary defines recession as a period of reduced economic activity.
Our enforced lockdown has paralyzed the country’s commerce, which is an exchange or buying and selling of commodities on a large scale involving transportation from place to place.
This is the worst economic slump the country has suffered since 1984 in the wake of the assassination of former senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr.
How does the current recession affect the average man on the street?
The manufacture of goods has slowed down, resulting in less consumer spending due to lack of goods and services.
Because many businesses have shut down, millions of people are jobless.
For example, Jollibee, a multibillion-peso fast-food chain, has closed down 255 company-owned stores while another 95 company-owned stores will be sold to franchisees. It is not known how many franchised Jollibee outlets have also closed down.
Cebu Pacific airline is about to close down its operations because domestic flights have been suspended, rendering thousands of its employees out of work.
Those employees who have retained their jobs either agreed to pay cuts or no pay at all. Those who agreed to temporarily forgo their salary are given the promise that they will receive their back pay if the economy gets better.
Naturally, the jobless will be unable to put food on their tables.
Even those who have money to spend can’t buy all the things they need or want because goods are scarce.
The construction and housing industry, which perks up the economy, has slowed down if it hasn’t halted yet.
Agriculture, the source of food for the nation, has been affected because there is less or, sometimes, no transportation to ferry rice, vegetables, fruits, meat and fish from their sources to the market.
As a result, crime against property — theft and robbery — will go up exponentially because people are hungry.
As the saying goes, a hungry man knows no law.
I’m not trying to be a doomsday prophet; I’m just stating a fact as a reporter, who covered the Police beat for many years.
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People who are out of jobs can go into business to make ends meet.
Every citizen can sell raw or cooked food at this time of food scarcity.
“One has just to be creative. For example, cooking adobo and selling it to your neighbors might be the start of a big business,” says billionaire Sandy Javier.
Javier believes in the Chinese saying that a crisis is also an opportunity to grow.
The word “crisis” has two meanings in Chinese: danger and opportunity.
Javier owns Andok’s, a chain of sidewalk stores selling roasted chicken, barbecue and other dishes.
From its humble beginning in 1985, Andok’s now has 300 branches all over the country.
Javier said one must not be embarrassed to go into a small business.
Sandy, who is the brother of Danny Javier of the famous Apo Hiking Society and whose father was a rich man in Leyte, worked as a waiter in Japan and then painted cars in Germany for a living.
Although a graduate of the Ateneo de Manila, Sandy became a prodigal son much to the distress of his father, Leonardo Javier, an engineer turned politician.
The brand Andok’s is named in honor of his father whose nickname was Andok.
Sandy recalls being harassed by Quezon City policemen because he didn’t have a permit from city hall to sell roast chicken on the sidewalk.
“The policemen who harassed my sidewalk store became my managers when they retired,” said Javier.
Sandy Javier, who is a former mayor of Javier town in Leyte, wants his experience to be an inspiration to people who plan to go into business.
He is a very generous person, who gives large amounts of money to charity.
“If you share your blessings, more blessings will come,” Sandy once told me.
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President Rodrigo “Digong” Duterte should have pleaded with his friend Dr. Jaime Cruz to accept the top post of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth).
Cruz would have made an excellent PhilHealth president and chief executive officer because he is a very successful businessman.
Cruz, a surgeon by profession, owns a chain of restaurants and fast-food outlets and would have prevented the plunder of PhilHealth funds.
Running a restaurant is one of the most difficult of business enterprises because the restaurateur knows all the tricks employees are up to such as conniving with one another to steal from management.
Before the top PhilHealth post was given to Ricardo Morales, a retired Army general, the President offered it to Dr. Cruz, one of his closest and most trusted friends.
The multimillionaire doctor turned down the President’s offer because he had to take care of his own business.
But the good doctor would most likely have given in if the President had appealed to his sense of nationalism to run PhilHealth.