"We will no longer implement a lockdown."
This was among the most resounding remarks President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. pronounced during his first State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday, July 25, that lasted for more than an hour.
The President said while there are new variants of the coronavirus being discovered at the present, the Philippines can no longer afford to go through another lockdown, so he pronounced that under his administration, there will no longer be lockdown.
"Sa ating sitwasyon ng pangkalusugan, nariyan pa rin ang banta ng Covid-19 lalo't may mga nadidiskubreng bagong variant ng coronavirus, pero hindi na natin kakayanin ang isa pang lockdown (In our health situation, the threats of new Covid-19 variants are still here, but we can no longer afford another lockdown)," Marcos said.
"Wala na tayong gagawing lockdown (We will no longer implement a lockdown)," the President added, earning an applause from the legislature.
Marcos said health protocols will, however, be implemented depending on the current situation.
Establishment of key health institutions
Recognizing the crucial role specialty hospitals played during the height of the pandemic, Marcos laid out his intention to build such institutions and the country's own Center for Disease Control and Prevention at ang isang vaccine institute.
"Napakinabangan natin nang husto ang malalaking specialty hospitals gaya ng Heart Center, Lung Center, Children’s Hospital at National Kidney and Transplant Institute...Maliwanag na hindi lamang dapat dito lamang sa National Capital Region kundi maging sa ibang parte ng bansa kailangan magdagdag ng ganitong uri ng mga pagamutan (We greatly benefited from big specialty hospitals like the Heart Center, Lung Center, Children’s Hospital at National Kidney and Transplant Institute...It is clear that we need hospitals like these not only in the National Capital Region but also in other parts of the country)," Marcos said.
The President stressed the need for a "strong healthcare system" which must be backed by competent and efficient medical professionals. Thus, he vowed to exert all efforts to improve the welfare of doctors, nurses, and other medical frontliners.
Ample supply of affordable medicine
Marcos also highlighted that his administration will work on sustaining an efficient supply of affordable medicine in the country.
He revealed that he has been discussing with local and foreign companies to "open up the market to lower the price of drugs." The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), he said, is also talking with interested manufacturers for the entry of generic drugs in the country.
Marcos also ordered the Philippine Competition Commission to level the playing field and ensure that there must be no cartels among pharmaceutical companies.
"Dahil kapag bukas ang merkado, bababa ang presyo ng gamot para mapakinabangan ng ating mga mamamayan (Because if the market is open, to lower the prices of medicine for the benefit of the public)," Marcos said.
"This is one of the hard lessons that we learned when the pandemic struck, and therefore, we must act on that shortcoming," the President added.