By Ben Rosario
Makabayan bloc solons in the House of Representatives on Wednesday urged the Duterte administration to seek the help of the Cuban government in ending the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis in the Philippines.
The six Makabayan lawmakers noted that Cuba had reported successes in dodging the serious public health threat, with doctors in the island nation using Interferon Alpha 2B in treating patients.
Cuba, the opposition solons said, even sent medical and technical teams to Italy and Venezuela to support their efforts on containing the dangerous virus.
They said the Cuban government and its medical professionals have demonstrated excellent health care system which contributed strongly in ensuring success against the pandemic.
It would not be difficult for the Duterte government to seek Cuba’s assistance as the two countries still maintain bilateral relations that started when Philippines was granted by the United States its independence in 1946.
The diplomatic relation was disrupted in 1961 but was re-established in 1975 following talks between then First Lady Imelda Romualdez Marcos and Cuban Prime Minister Fidel Castro.
The Makabayan bloc expressed belief that the people and government of Cuba, with their highly developed and responsive healthcare system, can provide invaluable support to our tireless Filipino health workers and professionals who are now battling the virus at the frontlines.
“In spite of our frontliners’ determined efforts, the lack of manpower, resources, and time proved to be major hindrances in effectively addressing the outbreak and its impact on the Filipino people,” the six members of the minority bloc in the Lower House said in a joint statement.
“With the grim prospect of the epidemic worsening in the next few months – a possibility already sounded off by numerous health experts – it is high time that the government seeks the help of those who have been successful in curbing the spread of the virus,” the statement added.
The Makabayan bloc is composed of Reps. Carlos Zarate, Eufemia Cullamat and Ferdinand Gaite of Bayan Muna Partylist; Sarah Elago of Kabataan Partylist; Arlene Brosas of Gabriela Women’s Partylist; and France Castro of ACT Teachers Partylist.
The six solons urged President Duterte to negotiate for the purchase of the Interferon Alpha 2B.
The Philippine government may also request the help of Cuban specialists to assist our health department in replicating Cuba’s best practices in the prevention and control of COVID-19.
The Makabayan bloc also endorsed the forging of an agreement with Cuba for medical technology transfer and training of Filipino medical practitioners on the most advanced medical techniques and practices.
“In this time of crisis, genuine international solidarity – not additional burdensome loan agreements – would help save us,” said the lawmakers.