ECOP urges gov't to strengthen health care system as quarantine eases

Aleta Nieva Nishimori, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 06 2021 09:31 AM | Updated as of Nov 06 2021 11:03 AM

MANILA - The Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) on Saturday said government should focus on strengthening the health care system and be consistent with the protocols it imposes as it eases lockdown restrictions with the decline in COVID-19 cases.

“Ang problema ang daming eksperimentong ginagawa. Ang mga tao handa naman sumunod. Ang problema na-confuse sila ngayon. Ang dami mong ginagawang protocols sa mga opisina, sa mga restaurants, tapos makikita mo sa sasakyan nagkakandungan halos, tapos 'yung pila, 'yun ang mga superspreader. Dapat muna 'yun pinag-isipan nang mabuti, pinaghandaaan,” said ECOP president Sergio Ortiz Luis.

(We experiment a lot. People are ready to follow. But they are confused right now. You've been strictly implementing protocols in the office, the restaurants then you'll see passengers packed in public transportation, that can be a superspreader. We should prepare for it first.)

Malacañang on Thursday night announced that Metro Manila would shift to Alert Level 2, less than 3 hours before it took effect, allowing the reopening of more businesses and the additional easing of restrictions.

This, as COVID-19 cases in the country continued to decline, logging less than 3,000 new cases daily in recent days.

“It’s going the right direction. Kaya lang kailangan 'yung nagpapatupad 'yung sa hospital para kung magkaroon ng surge hindi tayo natatakot na ma-overwhelm, walang tigil 'yun. Hanggang ngayon hindi naso-solve,” he said.

(However, they should prepare the hospitals so that in case of another surge, we will not be afraid that the health care system will get overwhelmed again. But it's not resolved up until now.)

In an interview on TeleRadyo, Ortiz said problems with unpaid hospitals and doctors and issues with public transport remain. 

Ortiz expressed concern that government would resort back to lockdowns if there is another surge and if these immediate problems are not solved. 

“Parang walang sense of urgency doon, ito complacent na naman sila bumaba na tapos pag nagkaroon ng surge lockdown na naman kasi hindi handa 'yung ospital,” he said.

(It's like there is no sense of urgency, now they are complacent again because cases are down and then we go into another lockdown if there is a surge because the hospitals are not prepared.)

Meanwhile, Ortiz said government should also improve the way it communicates to the public the importance of getting shots against COVID-19. He said the public only needs to know that while they may still get infected with COVID-19, the vaccine would prevent them from being severely ill or dying.

“'Yun ang dapat na line lang hindi kung ano-anong incentives, kung ano-anong pananakot. Dapat consistent tayo. Ang communication natin sa vaccine: kailangan niyo 'yan personal at ng pamilya niyo. 'Yun lang ang dapat na message, nako-confuse mga tao natatakot pa tuloy ang iba. 'Kung talaga bang ok ito bakit ako pipilitin, babakunahan ako habang natutulog?'” he said.

(That should be the line and not offer incentives or threats. It should be consistent. Our communication should say that they need it personally and for their family. That's it. That's the only message we should say and not confuse people. 'If it's really ok, why do they have to force me, vaccinate me while I'm sleeping?')

President Rodrigo Duterte had earlier said those hesitant to get COVID-19 shots should be vaccinated in their sleep. Malacañang later clarified this was just a joke.

The Philippines targets to vaccinate 70 percent of its population by the end of the year. As of Nov. 4, over 28 million or 37.23 percent of the target have been fully vaccinated.