WHO data shows we have failed to contain the pandemic — Pangilinan

Published June 28, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Hannah L. Torregoza

The World Health Organization’s (WHO) data showing the Philippines as having the highest COVID-19 cases in the Western Pacific Region showed the government’s failure to put in place an effective mechanism to combat the spread of the disease through contact tracing and mass testing.

Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan said WHO’s assessment is a shameful reminder also that the Philippines is the only country that failed among other nations in the region in terms of combatting the epidemic.

Sen. Kiko Pangilinan (Senate of the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN)
Sen. Kiko Pangilinan
(Senate of the Philippines / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

“Yan ang diplomatic na paraan ng pagsabi na tayo sa Pilipinas ang pinakamalala sa buong Western Pacific region. Yan ang pagbubukod tangi ng Pilipinas: pinakapalpak na pagtugon sa pandemya. (That was the most diplomatic way of saying that we here in the Philippines has the worst situation among other countries in the whole Western Pacific region. That the Philippines failed in resolving the pandemic),” Pangilinan said in a statement.

“Nakakahiya sana sa mga kapit-bansa, pero mas nakakahiya sa kapwa Pilipino, sa mga doktor at nars at med tech at lahat ng nagbuwis at nagbubuwis ng buhay para masugpo ang sakit. (It’s embarrassing to neighboring countries, but its more embarrassing to our medical frontliners who risked and lost their lives to fight the disease),” Pangilinan further lamented.

Sen. Joel Villanueva echoed Pangilinan’s observation, saying that he has always advocated for a conservative approach in reviving the Philippine economy.

“For the past weeks, we lost focus on our primary goal of containing the virus. We reopened the economy drastically, even for the non-essential sectors like POGO (Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators),” Villanueva said.

“We did not prohibit malls from extending their operating hours. We terminated social assistance, sent people back to work even without sufficient modes of public transportation,” he lamented.

“There was no clear guidance on surveillance and epidemiological monitoring. The current statistics are obviously consequences of these actions,” Villanueva pointed out.

Villanueva said the government should put in place a methodologically sound epidemiological surveillance so that it can make informed decisions on policy approach regarding COVID-19.

“I really hope that during the past months we have upgraded our healthcare system to properly respond to this pandemic. We continue to encourage the public to stay at home, practice social distancing and only come out of their homes when necessary,” he said.

Pangilinan, for his part, renewed his call for the government to immediately improve its mass testing and contact tracing capabilities, which he said is “more important than deploying military and police in COVID-19 affected areas, pursuing Charter Change measures and federalism.”

“The government should care for, not scare, Filipinos during this pandemic,” Pangilinan stressed.