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Presidential bets bare plans for new COVID-19 surge in PH

By: Daniza Fernandez - Reporter / @DFernandezINQ - | March 19,2022 - 09:39 PM

Plans for a possible new COVID-19 surge by presidential candidates during the Comelec organized debates.

MANILA, Philippines — Presidential bets bared their respective plans for a possible new COVID-19 surge in the country during the 2022 PiliPinas Debates of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Saturday.

During the debate, Vice President Leni Robredo said that since a COVID-19 surge in the country is a possibility,  the government must focus on ramping up vaccinations — especially as the country has not reached the 77 million target for herd immunity.

“Dapat po ang una nating tutukan, talagang mapa-igting natin ‘yong vaccinations dito sa atin.  ‘Pag tinignan ngayon ‘yong datos, 58 percent pa lang ‘yong tapos na sa first and second shot, 16 percent pa lang ang tapos na sa booster.  Ang initial target natin ay 77 million na Filipinos ang dapat vaccinated, kulang pa tayo ng 13 million para maabot ‘yong target na ‘yon,” Robredo said.

“So ‘yong una kong gagawin sisiguraduhin ko na maabot natin ‘yong targets natin, and malampasan pa.  Tapos dapat ‘wag na nating hintayin ‘yong another surge para i-beef up natin ‘yong testing, tracing, saka treatment,” she added.

Former Defense secretary Norberto Gonzales agreed with Robredo on the ramp-up vaccination, as he questioned the plan to donate vaccines when a large portion of the population remains unvaccinated.

“Tama po ‘yong sinabi ni Vice President Robredo, ‘yon atin pong vaccination, kailangan i-review natin ‘yong ating proseso, eh nadinig po natin magdo-donate pa tayo ng vaccines sa labas?  Eh kailangang-kailangan po natin ‘yan,” Gonzales said.

“Palagay ko po baka mag-expire kaya natin ipinamimigay sa labas.  Hindi po magandang pakinggan ‘yan,” he added.

Gonzales was referring to reports on March 9 that the Philippines will be donating COVID-19 vaccines to vaccine-short countries as some of these are already nearing expiry dates.

READ: PH to donate COVID jabs to vaccine-short nations

Other candidates on the other hand pushed for long-term plans, like preparing for the next pandemic, with Senator Panfilo Lacson stressing the need to establish a virology institute.

“It’s not a question kung handa o hindi handa ang Pilipinas, dapat lagi tayong handa for the next pandemic, mapa-Deltacron man, mas que anong variant, o bagong pandemic.  That’s why as early as May 2020 nag-file po ako ng bill, ‘yong pag-establish ng Virology, Science, and Technology Institute.  Kasamaang palad hindi pa rin po napapasa,” Lacson said.

“Sa kabutihang palad naman ito’y meron nang pondo sa 2022 GAA na P982 million pang-start up, kasi meron nang lupa na nanggaling sa BCDA.  So ipu-pursue ko po ito, kasi ito ang magliligtas sa atin kasi hindi na tayo mag-iimport, lalakasan na ‘yong natin ang research and development,” he added.

Labor leader Leody de Guzman meanwhile said that should a new COVID-19 surge happens, the national government has to be responsible.

“Pero kung mangyayari dapat akuin ng gobyerno ang responsibilidad sa kalusugan ng ating mamamayan, ‘wag i-asa sa pribado.  ‘Wag nating gawing negosyo ‘yong usapin ng kalusugan ng ating mga kababayan,” de Guzman said.

“Ang unang hakbang dapat tiyakin natin na ma-resolve ‘yong kakapusan sa pagkain ng ating mamamayan, gawin nating malusog ang ating mga kababayan nang sa gayon magkaroon siya ng lakas ng katawan na labanan ang anumang virus na dumarating,” he added.

Manila Mayor Isko Moreno on the other hand said that he will look at available funds under the Bayanihan 1 and Bayanihan 2 laws, and use these to buy more equipment and medicines.

“Ito po ay gagamitin natin ipambili ng mga ekwipo, magtatag ng mga COVID-19 field hospital, at bumili ng mga gamot na katulad na binili ng Maynila […] Ibig pong sabihin, we can learn how to live with COVID-19 and go back to work safely, ‘yon po ang magiging direksyon namin,” Moreno explained.

All areas in the Philippines have been deemed low-risk for COVID-19 transmissions, over two months since the country experienced a quick surge in cases because of the Omicron variant.

Since January, cases have been on a steady decline.  However, experts warn about possible new surges, especially as certain areas which has encountered the Omicron variant are seeing a new increase in infections.

READ: OFWs in Hong Kong seek help amid COVID surge

READ: OCTA sees drop in COVID cases to 300-500 by end of March

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