(Remarks delivered by former Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr., at the ICAPP 2nd Video Conference on the COVID-19 Pandemic on May 25, 2021.)
A global program for post-COVID-19 world and future pandemics
With the global plague having claimed more than three million human lives, shattered economies, caused massive unemployment, and endangered peace-building gains in the world’s conflict zones, we must now begin formulating a coordinated global program in facing the post-COVID-19 world.
We must also plan a concerted international response to the next pandemic to ensure that our children and grandchildren will be more prepared to battle the next plague, for indeed history tells us that COVID-19 will not be the last pandemic and perhaps, God forbid, the worse is still to come.
And as we endeavour to contain and recover from the raging coronavirus, we must deepen and broaden the solidarity and cooperation we have established in combating this deadly scourge.
Crucial role of political parties
As we have repeatedly pointed out, our role as political parties is essential as we serve as the vehicles of people’s participation and aspirations. We constitute the government and parliament. We are the bridge between policy and people.
Our political parties must expand the sharing of information, experience and best practices undertaken by governments and parliaments around the world to guide our respective countries in building a stronger health care system and in enhancing emergency response for future pandemics and other health crises.
We must also work with the United Nations, World Health Organization, the World Bank, and other international organizations toward this end.
Tribute to scientists and healthcare workers
We commend the scientific community and its partners for the development and production of COVID-19 vaccines, which brought light at the end of the dark, virulent coronavirus tunnel and provided optimism about the future of humanity.
We also pay tribute to healthcare workers and volunteers for their unwavering commitment and selfless efforts in serving the community, risking their own lives and of their families. We commiserate with the families of doctors, nurses, and other medical staff worldwide who succumbed to COVID-19.
Truly, the scientists and healthcare workers are among our world’s modern day heroes.
Economic stimuli alongside safety and health measures
As we prepare for a post-COVID-19 world, we wish to underscore the importance of fiscal incentives and economic programs to be tackled alongside safety and health measures by governments and parliaments around the world.
We are pleased to note that in the midst of the raging deadly pandemic in our country, the Philippines, our government provided emergency cash aid to low-income families; granted wage subsidies to embattled local workers and overseas Filipino workers who have lost their jobs due to the coronavirus; gave health workers a special risk allowance; and provided financial assistance for the medical costs of those who were infected by COVID-19.
As we in Asia and around the world prepare for the post-pandemic period, our respective countries’ economic stimulus and recovery program must include funding for health care, education, agriculture and infrastructure; and extending assistance to distraught workers and businesses, especially the micro, small and medium enterprises.
We thank the World Health Organization-led COVAX facility and other countries which provided assistance to the Philippines and the Filipino people and other nations in Asia and around the world in our uphill battle against the pandemic.
Amid the deaths, economic crisis, and enormous difficulties brought about by the dreadful global plague, let me quote a great writer, poet and theologian Thomas Merton when he said:
“Speak words of hope. Be human in this most inhuman of ages. Guard the image of man for it is the image of God.”