Hontiveros wants added funds in nat’l budget aimed at rebuilding COVID-19 facilities in typhoon-hit areas

Senator Risa Hontiveros today pushed for additional funds in the 2021 National Budget of the Department of Health (DOH) for the immediate rebuilding of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) testing and isolation facilities that were damaged by the recent typhoons.

Sen. Risa Hontiveros (Senate of the Philippines / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

Hontiveros said these facilities remain ‘crucial’ to the country’s COVID-19 response.

She said that the additional DOH budget would go to rebuilding typhoon-hit facilities in Bicol Region considered completely non-functional.

Members of the Senate and the House of Representatives bicameral conference committee meet tomorrow to iron out the differing provisions in their separate version of the 2021 P4.5 trillion General Appropriations Bill (GAB).

Areas that lost their facilities, specifically Camarines Sur, Albay, Camarines Norte also had the highest number of infections in the region, she added.

“Wag nating hayaan maging COVID-19 hotspots ang mga lugar na hirap din makabangon sa mga dumaang bagyo,’’ she added. (Let us not allow them to become COVID-19 hotspots as they are having difficulty recovering from the past typhoons.)

Hontiveros said the seeming decrease in cases as shown by the DOH COVID-19 tracker is ‘worrisome’ and is an indicator of incomplete reporting.

“Bumababa lang ang reported cases sa typhoon-hit areas dahil bulag tayo pag wala o kulang ang testing centers. Doble doble talaga ang laban sa mga lugar na ito,” Hontiveros said. (The decrease in the reported cases in typhoon-raked areas is masked by the absence or lack of testing centers. There is a need to redouble our efforts to stop the infection in these areas.)

“Without active testing and functioning quarantine facilities in the areas, it is possible for COVID-19 to be passed around undetected and rapidly. Lalo na nagsisiksikan ang mga tao sa evacuation centers, napakadelikado nito,” she added. (Particularly when there is congestion in evacuation centers. They are in a very delicate situation.)

“Many of these areas remain devastated, and up to now are still experiencing hard rainfall. Lahat na ang nawala sa kanila. Protektahan natin sila sa pandemyang ito,” she added. (They have lost everything. Let us protect them from this epidemic.)