MANILA — Senators on Monday opposed the Department of Health’s (DPH) sudden decision to stop daily reports on new COVID-19 cases.
The DOH earlier said that it will now only post its daily data on its official website for the public. The announcement came hours after it recorded the country’s 4th case of the highly transmissible Omicron variant.
Philippine Red Cross chairman Sen. Richard Gordon said this sudden change of policy in disseminating COVID-19 updates shows lack in manpower.
Continuing their daily release of reports is vital to ensure public safety, he said.
“Kailangan merong alam ang tao at mas mahalaga nakikinig ang tao para alam nila pano mag-iingat. I think it’s important para sa kaligtasan ng tao. Para ang ating mga kababayan ano ang diperensya. Siyempre kung alam nila mahahawa sila,” Gordon said.
Sen. Joel Villanueva echoed Gordon’s stand on the importance of non-stop information about COVID-19.
“These daily COVID bulletins are a reminder to the public that the problem is not yet over and that we must continue to be careful and practice safety protocols,” he said.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III, meanwhile, said the DOH’s sudden change of policy might have an “agenda" while Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri also questioned the agency’s new tack, underlining the people’s right to information.
“It’s a mistake that the DOH will stop announcing bulletins as it’s a tool for us, the public to know the positivity rate of infections in the country. Whether it is decreasing or increasing it is the right of the people to know this and be informed about it,” Zubiri said.
“I respectfully urge the DOH to continue these announcements so that we may be guided accordingly. Now more than ever, with the omicron variant should we be more on guard for the public’s safety,” he added.
Sen. Francis Pangilinan also pressed for the continuation of the COVID19 daily bulletin.
“Accurate information in the spread of the disease is crucial in knowing whether or not the spread of the virus is being effectively addressed or not. Daily bulletins are necessary means of providing accurate, timely information to the public at large,” Pangilinan said.
But Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III claims that there are more road accidents these days than COVID-19 cases, which have declined in the Philippines in the past weeks.
The fewer COVID-19 cases, he said, justify the DOH’s stand to stop its daily bulletin, Pimentel said.
“Cases are too low already. I think road accidents and reckless driving have been killing more Filipinos these days than COVID-19. Calling on the LTO, LTFRB, DOTR, PNP. Impose discipline in our streets!” Pimentel said in a text message to reporters.
Earlier Monday, the DOH recorded 318 new COVID-19 cases and a small rise in its positivity rate, according to the Department of Health (DOH).
A total of 2,838,792 COVID-19 cases have so far been confirmed since the coronavirus reached the Philippines last year.
The country's COVID-19 positivity rate went up to 2.2 percent, based on test results of samples from 14,237 individuals on Dec. 25, Saturday, a bit higher than last Wednesday's 1.4 percent.