Robredo hits ‘business-as-usual’ lockdown, urges govt to admit COVID lapses

Gillan Ropero, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 18 2021 01:37 PM | Updated as of Apr 18 2021 01:54 PM

Davao City Health Office personnel conduct free community surveillance swab testing for COVID-19 among local street vendors at the Magsaysay Park on April 16, 2021. The local government ordered the free swab tests to identify positive cases and help stem the spread of the coronavirus infection in the city. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - Vice President Leni Robredo on Sunday hit what she called “business-as-usual” lockdowns, which she said were not accompanied by increased testing, contact-tracing, or aid to hospitals affected families.

Robredo, who is on quarantine after being exposed to a COVID-19 positive individual, also said government must admit the lapses in its pandemic response if it is to address the current crisis.

"Kung parang business-as-usual lockdown, ganun pa rin. Para sa amin, gagawin na lang namin ang kaya naming gawin,” Robredo said in her weekly radio program Biserbisyong Leni. 

(If our lockdown is like business is usual, things will remain the same. We will just do what we can.) 

“Sa amin, ang first step kasi, pagtanggap ng kakulangan. Kaya siguro mabagal ang pag-aksyon kasi walang pagtanggap," she continued. 

(For us, the first step is admitting lapses. Maybe our government's actions are slow because there's no admission [of its lapses].)

Robredo said government should have ramped up COVID-19 testing during the 2-week enhanced community quarantine from late March to mid-April.

The Philippines' daily virus tests during the strict lockdown was only between 30,000 to 50,000, according to the Vice President. 

"In the past few days lang ata umabot ng 60,000. Kahit 60,000, kulang kasi ang taas ng positivity rate. Kahapon, parang 19 (percent) pa rin. Yung standard dapat less than 5 percent ito," she said.

(Our testing reached 60,000 only in the past few days. It's still not enough because our positivity rate remains high. Yesterday, it was around 19 percent. The standard should be less than 5 percent.)

The DOH has said that it is targeting to ramp up testing to at least 100,000 per day.

Robredo also hit Malacanang’s claim that COVID-19 tests are readily available and “virtually free” for medical and economic frontliners, and people who have symptoms or were exposed to COVID-19 positive individuals. 

"Sina-suggest natin na magbigay ng mas maraming free tests. Sinabi ni (Presidential Spokesperson) Secretary (Harry) Roque na libre naman talaga, available. Pero yung request na natatanggap namin, yun yung proof na hindi," she said.

(We called for more free tests. Secretary Roque said these are free and available. But the requests we receive are proof that it is not.)

"Totoong may libre sa LGU (local government unit), pero wala naman dun access lahat kasi may protocols na sinusunod. Kung may pagtanggap lang talaga ng pagkukulang, ang daming puwedeng gawin."

(It's true the LGU gives free tests but not all have access because there are protocols being followed. If government admits its lapses, it can do so much more.)

The Vice President's office earlier launched "Swab Cab," a community COVID-19 testing project, and a teleconsultation platform.

Robredo said the government should have also increased the number of hospital beds during the lockdown, and given more aid to affected families.

“Hindi tayo makakapag-lockdown ng another 2 weeks kung hindi naman tayo willing na gumastos para magbigay ng ayuda sa mga tao.”

(We can’t impose a lockdown for 2 weeks if we are unwilling to spend for aid for people.)

She urged government to postpone non-essential projects as cases surged in the Greater Manila area.

"'Yung sa'kin, yung tamang paggamit ng pondo ng pamahalan, kasi siyempre limited ang ating budget. Sana alisin muna ang mga non-essentials, 'yung mga pwede makahintay pagtapos na yung pandemic. 'Yung pagkagastusan muna, ito, kasi buhay ng tao ang nakasalalay," she said.

(We should spend our budget wisely because it's limited. Let's remove the non-essentials, those that can wait after the pandemic. Let's spend on our virus response because people's lives are on the line.)

Government resumed last week dumping crushed dolomite on the shore of Manila Bay as part of its P389 million rehabilitation project, which it said was approved in 2019.

Roque reiterated last week what he said are the government's achievements in its pandemic response as COVID-19 cases continue to rise.

"Critics and the detractors of the administration have always something to say," he said last Wednesday.

"It is worth mentioning that the increase in the number of cases is seen not only in the Philippines, but it is reflected worldwide as per World Health Organization Country Representative Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe," Roque said.

According to Roque, the Philippines ranks third after India and China in terms of tests per million population. It is also second only to Indonesia in terms of total tests conducted among countries in Southeast Asia at 10,42,636 tests conducted as of April 5, he added.

He also said the government has improved its contact tracing by improving the Staysafe.PH system, as well as adding more than 27,000 contact tracers in the "NCR Plus" area.

Roque, likewise said the Department of Public Works and Highways continues to build facilities and mobile hospitals for COVID-19 cases. The government have also set up a One Hospital Command for patients in need of hospitalization.

The Philippines is also the third country with the highest number of vaccine doses administered in Southeast Asia at 1.2 million.

"However, much more can be done, thus, we call on all sectors to unite and help the government in putting an end to this dreadful pandemic," Roque said.

The Philippines on Saturday reported 11,101 more COVID-19 cases, bringing its total to 926,052. Of this figure, 203,710 are active infections.

It was forecast by the OCTA Research Group to breach the 1 million mark by the end of the month.

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