In a catastrophic crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic, it is easy to lose sight of what really matters. Our common enemy is a virus, not people. What we are facing is a health threat that threatens the very survival of people. And, the survival of all our institutions—government, economy, law, family, among others—is premised on the survival of people.
PEOPLE FIRST. We call on all stakeholders to prioritize measures that protect, safeguard, and empower people. Now is the time for everyone to come together to help fellow Filipinos.
In light of the move to implement more stringent or enhanced quarantine measures in Luzon and in other affected areas, we appeal to our leaders to ensure that THERE ARE CONCRETE PLANS, ONGOING CAPABILITY BUILD UP, and CLEAR DISTRIBUTION SYSTEMS to ensure the delivery of the basic services and necessities that residents need to feel safe—SO THEY CAN and WILL STAY HOME.
We appeal to our leaders to:
1. Ensure the availability of basic services and necessities such as food, water, utilities, and medicines. Government must assure that health and other social services will continue to be made available to allay panic.
2. Initiate, through the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), a nationwide Bayanihan effort for provinces to help Luzon and other affected areas in the form of relief and hope packages for the benefit of those who need these the most in these difficult times.
3. Continue and expand DSWD’s social protection programs for poor families and other vulnerable sectors nationwide.
4. People-centered approaches to enforcing security measures. We appeal to our military and police to work in partnership with barangay councils, village associations, and civil society to ensure that the genuine needs and priorities are assured at the local level. We also appeal for regular patrols around streets to ensure that emergencies are addressed quickly.
5. Formulate and implement a more proactive and fairer policy framework on work and pay arrangements for all types of employees. We appeal to business organizations to ensure that employees are assured of pay at least until April 14, 2020. We likewise appeal to government to immediately make available to employees social security benefits that are due them.
6. Expand health services and provide free and massive COVID-19 testing and free treatment to curb the further spread of the virus.
7. Prioritize health-centered solutions. We urge our leaders to shift the focus to the health industry and highlight the needs of the health sector by empowering our researchers, doctors, nurses, frontliners, among others as warranted by this public health emergency.
We salute all the front-liners, particularly our medical practitioners, in the fight against COVID-19 as they risk their lives in order to serve our fellow Filipinos. We are truly grateful for your great sacrifice.
We stand in solidarity with all Filipinos in these difficult times.
We join everyone in praying for courage, wisdom, and compassion for all.