VP also questions lifting of travel ban on 10 countries
MANILA - Additional measures must be implemented once government imposes granular lockdowns in Metro Manila and lifts the travel ban on several countries starting this week, Vice President Leni Robredo said Sunday.
"Kung magga-granular lockdown lang tayo, buhusan na natin ng test, buhusan na natin ng trace, yung mga lockdown, buhusan na natin ng ayuda para maging effective siya,” Robredo said in her weekly radio program.
(If we do granular lockdowns, we should complement this with tests and tracing. And if we're locking down, aid should be given for it to be effective.)
The Inter-Agency Task Force on COVID-19 response approved the enforcement of granular lockdowns in Metro Manila beginning Wednesday, according to Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez on Saturday.
"(The) lockdown will be limited to few and small specific areas with high transmissions; but other areas will allow some more sector openings and capacity so that more jobs can be brought back," Lopez had said in a message to ABS-CBN News.
But Palace and IATF spokesman Harry Roque said the proposed granular lockdown is awaiting President Rodrigo Duterte's approval.
Robredo said she is also in favor of opening businesses as long as they conform to strict health standards, since some workers are given health care services at work.
“Kahit kasi tayo mag-granular lockdown nang mag-granular lockdown, kung 'yung pinaka-basic 'di naman natin ginagawa, wala rin itong epekto. Patuloy na tataas pa rin ang kaso, whether malawakan na lockdown o granular,” Robredo said.
(Even if we implement granular lockdowns, if we do not follow basic protocols, this will be futile. Cases will still climb whether it's a widespread lockdown or granular lockdown.)
Meanwhile, Robredo questioned the government's decision to lift the travel ban on 10 countries beginning Monday even as COVID-19 cases continue to rise.
“Hindi ko alam kung bakit tayo nagtatanggal ng restrictions ngayong ang taas-taas ng kaso natin,” she said.
While she admitted she is “not privy” to the details surrounding the IATF’s decision to ease the travel restrictions, she wondered if the decision is based on reliable data, noting that other foreign governments made a contradictory move.
“Nakita mo ang Hong Kong, sinuspend niya ang (flights mula Pilipinas ng) PAL, sinuspend ang Cebu Pacific. Meron lang siyang pasaherong pagdating doon positive, sinuspend na. Di ko alam kung ginagawa din natin yun pero ganun din ba tayo ka istrikto?” she asked.
(You've seen Hong Kong, which suspended PAL and Cebu Pacific flights. They suspended it immediately after an arriving passenger tested positive. I don't know if we're doing it but are we that strict?)
She pointed out it is the issue on travel ban that started the country’s COVID-19 problems in the first place.
“'Yung laki ng problema natin, nag-umpisa doon 'di ba? Natagalan tayo na mag-lock down na ganoon na ang sitwasyon sa Wuhan,” she said, referring to the Chinese city where initial cases of COVID-19 were recorded.
(Wasn't the problem stemming from that? We did not impose a lockdown even though Wuhan's cases rose.)
The Philippines confirmed its first COVID-19 case on Jan. 30 last year in a Chinese woman who arrived from Wuhan City. A male companion of the woman was also the country's first COVID-19 fatality, and the first outside China.
Once the travel ban on India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia is lifted, more protective measures should be implemented, said Robredo.
“Kung binuksan lang natin (ang ekonomiya) for the sake of bubuksan na wala namang kaakibat na pagsiguro na protektado tayo, ganoon yun, close-open tayo ng close-open (ng ekonomiya),” she said.
(If we are just opening the economy for the sake of it without additional protective measures, we will just keep on closing-and-then-opening the economy.)
The government must also allot bigger funds to the health department than what is allocated for the Department of Public Works and Highways, she said.
“Sa sitwasyon ngayon na ang kailangan nga ang pinakaginagawa natin ay makontrol ang pandemic… kahit pa anong pera ang ipasok mo sa DPWH, kung magkasakit at mamatay ang mga tao, wala din,” she said.
(With what's going on now, we need to control the pandemic. No matter how much we give to the DPWH, it will be pointless if people continue to get sick and die.)
“Sinasabi na kailangan ituloy ang Build, Build, Build kasi yung ekonomiya para mag-roll. Agree naman ako doon eh. O yung magbibigay siya ng employment, agree naman ako. Pero kung ganito ang kataas ang kaso, tapos 'yun ang binibigyan mo ng priority, parang mali."
(They say we need to resume the Build Build Build program to help the economy roll, and I agree with that. And give employment to other people. But if cases continue to increase and something else is given priority - something must be wrong.)
Citing reports of people having difficulty finding hospitals for emergencies, Robredo said government should prioritize building makeshift health facilities, hiring more and allocating funds to pay for health care workers, and help local governments to be equipped in responding to the pandemic.
The Philippines' total recorded COVID-19 cases climbed to 2,061,084 on Saturday, of which, 157,646 are active.
Positivity rate is at 28 percent, based on results of samples from 74,034 individuals tested on Thursday. This means more than 1 in 4 people screened were found carriers of the virus.
The Department of Health said Metro Manila's intensive care unit (ICU) utilization rate increased to 73 percent from 70 percent, while 74 percent of ICU beds nationwide were occupied.