Instead of a militaristic approach, the Duterte government should pursue genuine mass testing and improve its preemptive response against COVID-19, Senator Risa Hontiveros said.
Hontiveros made the call as the government heeded the medical workers’ call to revert Metro Manila and other “hotspot” areas back to modified enhanced community quarantine or MECQ.
“Any lockdown is not effective on its own. Kailangang may kasamang malakas na health response (It has to be accompanied by a strong health response),” Hontiveros said in her privilege speech during the Senate’s plenary session on Monday.
The senator said it is clear that the government botched its COVID-19 programs in the previous months of the lockdown but she hopes it would be finally able to do better this coming weeks.
“Susunod ang mga Pilipino. Siguraduhin lang nating may maayos na plano (Filipinos will follow. Let us just make sure we have systematic plans),” she said.
For instance, Hontiveros said the government can improve its preventive response by activating epidemiology and surveillance units in local government units as required by law to improve monitoring and detection of COVID-19 cases.
She also said the government should pursue a genuine mass testing by expanding COVID-19 testing and making it faster and more easily available to high-risk and densely populated communities.
The senator also reiterated the need to strengthen the health system and infrastructure by establishing “hospital command centers” for better coordination among health facilities and designating COVID-19 hospitals for critically-ill patients.
She also said the government should increase protection for vulnerable populations in the country such as the elderly, pregnant women and poor families.