By Mario Casayuran
Opposition Senator Francis N. Pangilinan said today he supports the extension of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) for another 15 days as recommended by experts.
Pangilinan said, however, that the new extension alone will be rendered ineffective if there is no fast-tracking of the following action steps:
1. More tests will be conducted. Does government have a national or local testing capacity target, expressed in the number of tests per population? How close are we to this target if any? We note that this information is critical for officials at the national and local levels of government as they decide whether or not to extend or lift community quarantines by May 16.
2. Massive contact tracing will be conducted.
3. Number of health care workers, facilities, medical equipment, and isolation facilities are sufficient to address the expected surge in coronavirus disease (COVID-19) related cases.
4. Health workers and other front-liners are well-protected through the use of personal protective equipment (PPE), and other resources and equipment.
5. Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and local scientists are given sufficient funding and support for Covid-19 vaccine and other related research.
6. Emergency cash subsidies and other government assistance will reach majority if not all of the intended beneficiaries given the effects of the extension of ECQ on poor families’ livelihood and access to food and other essential goods.
7. Food supply is sufficient while our farmers are well supported and given assistance.
8. Government’s actual cash position (sources of financing, expenditures) is reported in order to assure that we will be able to fund our fight against the pandemic and to guide Congress on the necessary steps to be taken to address this.
‘’How much is the budget ceiling allowed under the GAA (General Appropriations Act or national budget) and the Bayanihan Law? How much have we spent? Is there a need for a supplemental stimulus bill?’’ he asked.
‘’We look to the examples of Singapore, Taiwan, and South Korea, which did not impose a lockdown, but seem to (have) successfully contain(ed) the spread of the disease and limit(ed) the COVID-19 related deaths,’’ he pointed out.
‘’All of them, including China, did not completely stop the operation of their public transport systems because they know that it is vital to their people’s survival,’’ he added.