Women’s group renews call for free mass testing

Published April 8, 2021, 11:58 AM

by Gabriela Baron

A women’s group clamored anew for free mass testing amid the rising coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases in the National Capital Region (NCR) and nearby provinces.

MOBILE SWAB TEST – The City Health Services Office is now conducting free swab test for COVID-19 in the 128 barangay in Baguio City. (Zaldy Comanda / MANILA BULLETIN)
(Zaldy Comanda / MANILA BULLETIN)

The NCR, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal will remain under the enhanced community quarantine until April 11 to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the region.

In a statement released Wednesday night, April 7, Lingap Gabriela urged the national government to “heed the people’s calls” and focus on measures aimed to improve the country’s pandemic response.

“Health professionals and various people’s organizations are reiterating the importance of #FreeMassTestingNow. The government, through its surrogates, is claiming that mass testing is an impossible feat noting the country’s ‘limited resources.’ This is categorically untrue given the bloated military and intelligence budget in this fiscal year’s General Appropriations Act,” the group stressed.

“We urge the national government to shy away from unnecessary military and intelligence expenses and realign its budget toward essential spending aimed to improve our healthcare system,” it continued.

In December, President Duterte signed the P4.5-trillion national budget for 2021. A P205.8 billion-budget was allocated to the Department of National Defense and its attached agencies, including the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Government Arsenal, Philippine Veterans Affairs Office, National Defense College of the Philippines, and the Office of the Civil Defense.

“The clamor of health professionals and the public alike remains the same — increase free mass testing capacity, improve contact tracing capabilities, and provide much needed benefits to our healthcare workers and economic relief to the people,” Lingap Gabriela underscored.

Testing czar Vince Dizon on Tuesday, April 6, said the country is conducting a daily average of 50,000 COVID-19 tests.

Lingap Gabriela is a nonprofit organization providing services in disaster preparedness, relief operations, and rehabilitations towards empowering community-based women’s organizations.