By Ben O. de Vera, November 10, 2020; Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines — As most areas in the Philippines remained under prolonged COVID-19 quarantine, the economy again contracted in the third quarter as expected, although at a slower pace of 11.5 percent year-on-year compared to the record 16.9-percent fall during the second quarter.

As lockdown restrictions eased and the economy gradually opened up, the July to September gross domestic product (GDP) grew 8 percent quarter-on-quarter, National Statistician Claire Dennis S. Mapa told a press conference.

Only the agriculture sector managed to eke out year-on-year growth while industry and services remained negative. All sectors nonetheless grew compared to the second-quarter trough.

The government had projected the economy contracting by 4.5-6.6 percent this year or an average of 5.5 percent, but the economic team will review their estimates in light of the third-quarter outturn.

“The economic team is optimistic that the worst is over for the country,” Acting Socioeconomic Karl Kendrick T. Chua said, even as he noted that the worse-than-expected third-quarter GDP was a result of the two-week revert to stricter lockdown in Metro Manila and four neighboring provinces accounting for half of the economy last August alongside the lack of public transportation barring many workers who wanted to return to their jobs.