Government urged to beef up country’s healthcare capacity

Published January 14, 2021, 11:25 AM

by Charissa Luci-Atienza 

Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Raymund Villafuerte Jr. has cited the need for the government to continuously beef up the country’s healthcare capacity, grant better benefits to medical frontliners, implement a “bigger” financial stimulus plan, and provide financial relief to families and business most affected by the pandemic crisis. 

Deputy Speaker and Camarines Sur 2nd district Rep. Luis Raymund Villafuerte

He made the call amid the recent creation of a technical working group (TWG) by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) that is tasked to focus on the new COVID-19 variants and the first detection of more contagious COVID-19 variant from the United Kingdom in the country. 

“I believe what is more important is better implementation of the wholistic approach to the main health and economic crises, which is to limit the spread not only of this variant but also of the original COVUD-19 virus itself in order to save lives and revive the economy,” Villafuerte said in a Viber message. 

“Integral to this wholistic approach is the continuous beefing up of our healthcare capacity, better benefits for our medical frontliners, bigger fiscal stimulus to further generate business activity and boost consumer spending, and provide more relief to families and businesses most affected by the pandemic-induced economic slump.”

The former House deputy speaker for finance cited that the government now has more resources available to spend big on such anti-COVID-19 imperatives  following President Duterte’s signing into law of two measures that he had co-authored — Republic Act No. 11520 and Republic Act No. 11519.

RA No. 11520 extends the validity of the unspent funds under the 2020 national budget while  RA 11519 extends the validity of the remaining funds under the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act or Bayanihan 2.  

“As lead author of Bayanihan 2 in the House, I hope the extended validity of both this law and the 2020 national budget will let the Duterte administration accelerate spending on COVID-19 response measures that will reverse the infection surge as well on a bigger fiscal stimulus to fast-track our country’s recovery from what is considered to be the worst global recession since the Great Depression,” Villafuerte said. 

“We really need to dramatically raise public spending on COVID-19 amid the bleak forecasts by institutions like the World Bank and Moody’s Analytics that it will be a slow recovery for the Philippine economy amid our relatively smaller fiscal stimulus — when compared to those of our neighbors that already recovered last year or are expected to recover this 2021 — in the face of the post-holiday surge in local caseload,” he added.