There will be no more trade-offs in the government’s COVID-19 response in the implementation of the third phase of the National Action Plan (NAP) to address the pandemic.
This was emphasized by National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19 chief implementer Carlito Galvez Jr. as he led government planners in crafting the NAP Phase 3 in Baguio City over the weekend.
“In NAP Phase 3, we have to ensure the public’s health while reviving our nation’s economy. There will be no more trade-offs,” said Galvez, referring to some compromises which the government had to make in the early stages of the NAP’s implementation.
Galvez did not directly mention what compromises in the government’s COVID-19 response he was referring to.
However, among the biggest sacrifice the government had to make in the early part of the pandemic was the enforcement of a strict lockdown to arrest the spread of the virus.
It was deemed a “success” by the government but it dealt a big blow to the country’s economy.
“We need to continue to recalibrate our efforts according to the needs of local government units, the private sector, and the general public. So, we have to find ways to be creative so that our policies are not stringent,” Galvez said.
The NAP Phase 1, which was implemented from March to June, 2020, was marked by the enforcement of community quarantine measures which focused on the prevention and containment of the virus while mitigating its effects on the nation’s economy.
Galvez said the nationwide lockdown “enabled the government to strengthen the country’s healthcare system by scaling up the testing, contact tracing, quarantine, and treatment capacity of local government units (LGUs).”
Sotto blames Filipinos’ stubbornness
Senate President Vicente Sotto III insisted that the Filipinos’ stubbornness continues to be the cause of increase of COVID-19 cases in the Philippines, pushing the country to be among the top 20 nations with the most coronavirus infections.
The Philippines ranked 20th in the Johns Hopkins University and Medicine’s virus tracker with 319,330 COVID-19 cases as of October 3.
The United States topped the list with over 7.3 million cases.
Asked about this in a radio interview, Sotto said he does not believe that the government’s COVID-19 response is to be solely blamed for this.
“Katulad ng ibang nasa top 20, puro tayo mga medyo matindi ang democratic processes na kaunting may ano, ayaw. Marami tayong mga ganoon, eh. Itong mga bansa na mabilis na nawala ang problema katulad ng Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand, mabilis silang naka-ano, kasi parang martial law doon, strong-arm law doon… Lumabas ka, kulong ka, baka saktan ka pa (Like other countries in the top 20, we have strong democratic processes, that one simple order will be opposed. We have people like that. Look at those countries that quickly recovered from the problem like Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand, they easily addressed this, because it’s like martial law, they have strong arm laws. Go out and you will be jailed, they might even hurt you),” Sotto told radio DWIZ.
“Hindi pwede rito. Naku, eh ‘di nagwawala ang human rights dito. Kaya madali rin tayong mahawa, kasi maraming matigas ang ulo (We can’t do that here. If we did, then human rights advocates will be up in arms. That’s why we easily get infected, too, because many people are stubborn),” he added.
“’Yung sa atin, katigasan lang ng ulo natin ‘yun. Hindi lahat ha? Marami sa atin talagang sumusunod. Nakita mo, hindi nadadale ‘yong mga sumusunod, hindi ba (In our case, it’s just hard-headedness. Not everyone, because many still are complying with our health protocols. You see, those who obey are not getting infected),” he said.
He added: “104,700,000 Filipinos ang sumusunod. May 300,000 na hindi sumunod. Iyon ‘yong nadale.”
Sotto also reiterated his appeal to the government to change the manner of reporting the country’s COVID-19 situation. He said the Department of Health (DOH) should highlight the number of active COVID-19 cases, and those who recovered, instead of the total infections recorded in the country since the onset of the pandemic.
“That is looking at the glass halfempty instead of looking at it halffull,” he said. NAP response The NAP Phase 2 was anchored on the government’s PDITR strategy which stands for “Prevent, Detect, Isolate, Treat, and Reintegrate.”
This strategy was aimed at creating a balance between the protection of public health while slowly reviving the economy.
The NAP Phase 3, which will be implemented from the last quarter of 2020 to the first quarter of 2021, will seek to continue the “refined” implementation of the policies under the two earlier phases.
“The pandemic is not linear – it’s dynamic. The NAP is not a static document. It is a plan that must continue to evolve and be refined based on current realities on the ground,” Galvez said.
“We need to use this pandemic to accelerate our universalization of our healthcare system. The ICUs (intensive care units) remain the same because the non-COVID cases are always there,” he said.
“No home quarantine should be the rule, rather than the exemption. There shall be very strict conditions that must be complied for home quarantine to be allowed,” he said.