Robredo urges remote work, steady supply of food and goods amid COVID-19 threat
“We call on our fellow officials in the government and also in the private sector, maybe it’s time to consider a work-from-home scheme as long as it won’t sacrifice the services we provide the public,” Robredo said in a video posted on YouTube.
Michael Varcas/File
Robredo urges remote work, steady supply of food and goods amid COVID-19 threat
Franco Luna ( - March 12, 2020 - 7:01pm

MANILA, Philippines — Amid public tension over the novel coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19), Vice President Leni Robredo on Thursday evening urged work-from-home arrangements and more protection for Filipinos who will still need to report for work.

In a statement streamed on Facebook, Robredo also called on the government to pay particular attention to vulnerable and affected sectors in dealing with the virus.

The vice president also warned that the number of confirmed cases is likely to go up. The Department of Health said Thursday that it has listed 52 confirmed coronavirus patients in the country. 

"Nasa disaster mindset dapat tayo ngayon (We should be in a disaster mindset right now.)," she urged. 

"Dadami pa po ang bilang ng mga maysakit. Hindi ito haka-haka; nakabase ito sa mga pag-aaral at karanasan ng ibang bansa."

(The number of cases will still rise. This is not speculation; this is based on studies and the experiences of other nations)

Specific measures needed

She also called on the national government to be clearer and more specific with its steps in quelling the new pathogen. 

"Maging espesipiko rin sa mga hakbang nilang gagawin sakaling kumalat ang sakit sa mga high-density areas, lalo na ang sa mga lugar na maraming maralita," she said. 

"Marami sa aming kababayan ang nakaasa sa pagpasok araw-araw. Gaya ng lagi, ang mga mahihirap ang pinaka-apektado sa ganitong pagkakataon. Siguruhin natin na angkop ang pansin at pagpapahalaga ang abot sa kanila."

(Be more specific in the steps you'll take in the event that the virus spreads to higher-density areas, especially areas with many indigents. Many of our people depend on going to work everyday. And as always, the poor are most affected in times like these. Let's make sure that we give them enough help.) 

Among the other recommendations that the vice president made were:

  • Providing basic needs such as sanitation items and supplies for food banks, especially for poorer communities
  • Providing financial assistance to indigent citizens affected by quarantine measures, among others 
  • Clearer information on public hospitals that capable of accepting those with severe symptoms
  • Expediting the process of releasing testing kits developed by local scientists
  • Natonal government setting up temporary isolation facilities 
  • Acquiring more protective equipment for health workers 

The vice president highlighted that social distancing would not work if those in poverty would have to leave their homes for supplies. 

She also pointed out that many Filipinos could not afford treatment at private hospitals, especially the poor, whom she said would be most affected by a lockdown scenario. 

READ: Healthcare 'grossly neglected' in 'middle-income' Philippines, groups say

'No panic-buying'

The vice president also urged officials to make more resources and facilities available to the public, citing that the collective number of isolation rooms in the country is less than 400.

Robredo also warned Filipinos against panic-buying, saying this would ultimately do more harm than good. 

"Hindi rin po nakakatulong ang panic buying at hoarding. Ang bawat bote ng alkohol na iniimbak natin at di nagagamit ay isang boteng ipinagkakait natin sa ating mga kapitbahay," she said. 

(Panic-buying and hoarding will not help anyone. Every bottle of alcohol hoarded is a bottle that we have deprived our neighbor use of)

"Narito pa rin ang pambansang pamunuan," she assured. "Kaya nating pangasiwaan ang sitwasyon. Maging malinaw lang tayo sa pag-iisip, kalmado sa pagkilos."

(The national government is still here. We can still alleviate the situation. Let's be clear in our thinking, calm in our actions.)

LIST: Confirmed COVID-19 cases in the Philippines 

In an earlier statement, the World Health Organization said that its biggest concern was "the potential for the virus to spread to countries with weaker health systems, and which are ill-prepared to deal with it." 

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