Philippines needs more 'collaboration' to succeed in COVID-19 fight: Pernia

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 14 2020 06:15 PM | Updated as of Aug 14 2020 09:25 PM

Health workers administer flu and pneumonia vaccines to 75-year-old Lolita Espiritu as part of their community vaccination drive in Barangay Pembo, Makati City on August 12, 2020. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA - Former Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said Friday the Philippines should seek more collaboration in order to successfully mitigate the impact of COVID-19 and boost economic recovery.

Partnerships with government, private sector and the academe will help strengthen the country's healthcare system, Pernia, who chairs this year's Annual Scientific Meetings of the Philippine-American Academy of Science & Engineering (PAASE) said.

"I think one reason why the country has failed in terms of timely and adequately dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, can be attributed to this lack of partnerships," Pernia said.

"I think what we should have done and we can still do it, is really to strengthen our Healthcare System Capacity (HSC) if we have done that in the beginning, then the need for a lockdown, a tight lockdown would have been less necessary," he added.

Pernia said he was surprised that the government estimated a possible recovery of 6.5 to 6.7 percent economic growth in 2021.

The gross domestic product contracted by 9 percent in the first half, after it dived 16.5 percent in the second quarter, officially bringing the country into recession.

For 2020, the government lowered its growth forecast to a contraction of 5.5 percent from its initial estimates of up to a 3.4 percent drop.

Pernia also noted that science was "underutilized" in the country's pandemic response.

The country's coronavirus task force are headed by top government officials, mostly retired generals.

The group urged the government to increase investments in research and development to prepare for the future.

The Philippines now has the most number of infections in Southeast Asia, surpassing Indonesia despite imposing one of the world's longest and strictest lockdowns.

Metro Manila, Rizal, Cavite, Bulacan and Laguna remain under modified enhanced community quarantine until Aug. 18 as cases continue to rise.

--with a report from Bruce Rodriguez, ABS-CBN News.