Robredo bares recommendations in containing spread of COVID-19

Kristine Joy Patag - Philstar.com

MANILA, Philippines — Days after President Rodrigo Duterte delivered his State of the Nation Address that critics said were sorely lacking on government response on COVID-19, Vice President Leni Robredo laid down to the public suggestions on combating and containing the spread of the coronavirus.

In a recorded speech released Wednesday afternoon, Robredo said that waiting for a vaccine will not stop the spread of the coronavirus that, as of Wednesday, infected 85,486 people in the Philippines.

READ: COVID-19 cases in Philippines now over 85,000 with 1,874 new infections

“Nasa iisang panig tayong lahat, at ang pagkamulat sa katotohanang ito ang susi sa pagharap sa hamon ng COVID (We are on the same side, and the realization of this truth is the key in confronting the challenge of COVID-19),” she said.

The vice president said that dreaming of achieving what Taiwan, South Korea, Vietnam and New Zealand—countries deemed successful in containing the virus—is not “too much.”

“We can also do that. We have enough capacity, resources and knowledge,” Robredo added in Filipino.

Citing the flood of volunteers her office received, the vice president stressed: “Malinaw sa akin, hindi pasaway ang Pilipino, kundi laging handang tumulong sa kapwa. Hindi inutil ang Pilipino, kundi may tapang at talino na humarap sa anumang hamon. Hindi talunan ang Pilipino.”  

READ: Government banks on 'discipline' as likely shift to GCQ nears | Gov't said Filipinos are 'pasaway' and violate quarantine, but data show otherwise

Data gathering

The vice president listed the recommendations starting off with “cleaning and fast-tracking data gathering involving COVID-19.” She noted that several experts have come up with platforms as repository of information.

“We need to stop this at the soonest possible time. All these will start in the right data, foundation of a right decision,” she said in Filipino. Robredo explained that this determines the areas that need mass testing, contact tracing and support in communities and hospitals.

Robredo also said that there should be a “communications campaign” to those who are seeking medical help to ensure that the correct information is given to them. Academic institutions may also help the Department of Health in validation process.

The vice president also stressed that it is crucial to ensure that the “turnover time of COVID-19 tests is fast,” since this will greatly help in contact tracing.

Locally stranded individuals, or Filipinos who seek to return to their home provinces, should also be given free COVID-19 swab tests. Robredo also called for more organized processing of LSIs, and not be crammed into areas where they face higher risk of COVID-19 exposure.

Stranded Filipinos

Over the weekend, thousands of LSIs who sought the government’s “Hatid Tulong” program flocked to the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex, raising concerns on the failure to impose physical distancing at the stadium.

At least 25 of them tested positive for COVID-19 after undergoing a rapid test. They will be subjected to a confirmatory test.

Malacañang and the Department of Health admitted there was a failure to enforce health standards to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 last weekend.

‘Whole of nation approach’

Robredo also said she supports a “whole of nation approach” towards the health crisis, but a health professional “that truly understands the problem” should stand at the helm of this.

The vice president also called for ensuring that resources for hospitals and medical facilities should be equitable and systemic, and healthcare workers, who are at the forefront of the country’s battle against COVID-19, should be given fair wages.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said Tuesday that the utilization rate of intensive care unit beds has reached 53% while isolation is at 51%.

Ward bed utilization, meanwhile, reached to 57%, putting the nationwide occupancy rate in the “warning zone," Vergeire added.


Robredo also urged the passage of stimulus package bills into laws as soon as possible. She also suggested tax incentives for private companies that will provide aid during the pandemic.

“Use the force of the whole economic cluster, including the academe and others from the private sector, not only to craft risk assessment study, but also to ensure that the decision is based on the study,” the vice president added.

She also urged securing a “buffer stock” of necessities for families amid the health crisis, including vitamins, soap, alcohol and face masks.

Local government units must also prioritize local businesses and patronize micro, small and medium enterprises.

The Social Amelioration Program, the government’s cash aid scheme for those affected by the pandemic, must be more systematic, Robredo said. “As of now, there are different registries for basic sectors, for records of the poor, for social protection and social welfare services.”

“Collate these, validate and compare with the records on COVID-19 to determine who should be prioritized in SAP,” she added.


With the coming school year set to open in a month, Robredo stressed that it is important to ensure that each barangay has an internet hub that would give access to learners without gadgets.

“Identify the students most in need so they may be given or device so they will not be forced to stop schooling,” she added.

Robredo also recommended capacity building for teachers.

Modules may also be prepared for parents on how to conduct home schooling.

Studies should also be conducted to identify localities where there is no COVID-19 transmission. “In these areas, especially those with difficulty in internet acces, limited holding of physical classes may be allowed,” Robredo said.

Scholarship programs should also be expanded to those whose families were affected by COVID-19 pandemic. Those whose breadwinners passed away due to the coronavirus must be offered scholarships too, she added.

2020 SONA



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