The Philippines should first address issues of virus transmission and the delay of the arrival of COVID-19 vaccines before it puts the whole country under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ), Vice President Leni Robredo said on Sunday.
Although she understands the need to reopen the economy, Robredo questioned the “basis” of the MGCQ, the most relaxed community quarantine category that will allow businesses to operate up to 50 percent capacity.
“Ang tanong ko lng kung anong basis ng MGCQ. Wala naman problema mag MGCQ kung may basehan tayo dun (My concern is the basis of the MGCQ. I have no problem with the MGCQ if we have a basis for it),” she said during her weekly radio show.
The vice president emphasized what she has been saying from the start, which is that the health and economy go hand-in-hand.
“Kapag nakontrol mo ‘yun transmission, iyong tao kampanteng lumabas. Kaya asikasuhin talaga ang kalusugan, ‘yun transmission, kasi iyon ang magpapabuhay sa economy (Once you control the transmission (of the virus), people will comfortable about going out. That’s why we need to focus on health, the transmission, because that will revive the economy,” she added.
Even if the country is put under MGCQ, Robredo is worried that people will still fear engaging in economic activities because of the high number of transmission and the lack of vaccines.
“Sana lahat ng energies natin andoon sa pagkontrol ng transmission at pag-provide ng bakuna. Hindi na kung saan, anu-ano pa. Dapat i-sentro na dun kasi iyon mahalaga ngayon (All our energies should be on how to control the transmission and to provide vaccines. It should not be on anything else. We should focus on that because that’s what’s important now).”
Meanwhile, Robredo once again sounded the alarm on the delay of the arrival of vaccines, noting that the country should have a high “sense of urgency” because of the number of daily COVID-19 positive cases.
She noted that even underdeveloped countries like Rwanda in Africa has already started its vaccination program while Thailand and South Korea, which have lower COVID-19 cases, will soon begin immunizing their people against the virus.
“Alam natin kung gaano kaimportante yun pagpapabakuna. Lalo naging impatient yun mga tao kung kailan darating lalo pa kasi last week, several weeks ago sinabi darating ng February 14 pero wala dumating (We all know how important the vaccines are. People became more impatient about when the vaccines will arrive because several weeks ago, they said the vaccines will arrive on February 14 but no vaccines arrived),” Robredo said.
The government earlier said that 117,000 doses of Pfizer’s vaccine will arrive in mid-February. This did not happen because of the incomplete indemnification requirements. Congress has since signed indemnification agreements for COVAX, a United Nations facility that will provide access to safe and efficient vaccines for lower-income economies.