PH should have a 'pandemic playbook', says Lacson

Published March 19, 2022, 8:50 PM

by Mario Casayuran

Senator Panfilo Lacson on Saturday, March 19 said the Philippines should always be ready for the next pandemic.

“That’s why as early as May 2020 nag-file ako ng bill yung pag-establish (I filed bill creating) a Virology Science and Technology Institute,’’ Lacson said in response to a query during a Commission on Elections (Comelec)-organized presidential debate.

He was specifically asked whether or not he thinks the Philippines is ready to handle a new Covid-19 surge.

Lacson rued that his Senate bill has not been passed.

He, however, is glad that there is a P982-million start-up fund in the 2022 national budget for the Institute to go with the land donated by the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA).

‘’So i-pursue ko ito dahil ito magliligtas sa atin (I will pursue this because this will save us). Di na tayo mag-import (We will no longer import). Lalakasan natin ang R&D sa pamamagitan ng VIP (We will strengthen Research & Development through VIP). Alam nyo bang 4 percent lang ang investment ng GAA sa R&D? (Do you know that only four percent was set aside for R&D in the national budget)? Pathetic.

‘’Now while we transition from a state of pandemic to endemic state, kailangan ngayon pa lang dahil meron sa Hong Kong, South Korea, China, even Europe, kailangan ang border control natin ating paigtingin (we need it now because there is [a surge] in Hong Kong, South Korea, China, and even Europe). We need a strict border control,’’ he added.

Lacson emphasized the need to digitalize and institutionalize the country’s pandemic response.

‘’Dapat meron na tayong pandemic playbook na nakahanda (We should have a ready pandemic playbook). Yan ang kulang natin lagi tayong nabubulaga (That is what we lack). Dapat proactive tayo mag-isip at di nagre-react (We must be proactive and not just be reactive),’’ he added.

Lacson then pressed for a full investment in the Universal Health Care (UHC) to be able to face whatever health crisis comes along.