Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has called for more proactive and positive steps in ensuring that all Filipino families will be properly assisted in the face of national public health emergency brought about the coronavirus (or COVID-19) outbreak.
De Lima, who chairs the Senate Committee on Social Justice, Welfare and Rural Development, said she is appealing for concerted nationwide effort among all able Filipino people, including civil society organizations (CSOs) and the private sector, to arrest the further spread of the coronavirus, especially among the vulnerable sectors.
“I call upon the government, volunteer and private sectors to go beyond the usual norm of public service to assist our countrymen, especially among the most vulnerable sectors, and lessen the burdens they carry for themselves and their families,” she said.
“An outbreak of disease knows no politics. Let’s stop foolish bravado, nonsensical jokes and hysteria but provide clear guidance and direction to contain the further spread of the virus and its deleterious impact to our lives and economy,” she added.
Last March 9, the Philippines was placed under a state of national public health emergency following the surge of reported cases of transmission of the COVID-19 virus. Classes on all levels have also been suspended for a week in Metro Manila.
In a three-day span, the confirmed cases rose quickly from six to 49 with most cases situated in the highly populated Metro Manila area. The virus surpassed the 14 cases of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome recorded in 2003.
The DOH has also implemented ‘’social distancing’’ measures, including the cancellation of public events that would host large groups of people and recommending telecommuting to those who can work from home, among others.
De Lima pointed out that the Filipino people have shown time and again that they can rise up to challenges, presently, the COVID-19 emergency, similar to the nationwide efforts to assist those affected by the recent eruption of Taal volcano.
“At this point, merely saying ‘do not panic’ repeatedly on-air would not hinder the virus from spreading havoc in the country. What the people need now is to see their government taking decisive actions to stay on top of the crisis,” she added.
“Our government should ensure that access to reliable public utilities will remain unhindered. All should have access to right information, healthy food, clean supply of water, among others, to enable us to survive the brunt of this pandemic,” she added.
De Lima also appealed to CSOs and the private sector to explore creative, doable and practical ways, such as distribution of pocket size bottles of rubbing alcohol, face masks and pocket tissues, to spare the public from being exposed to further risks.
In emergency situations such as a virus pandemic, the lady Senator from Bicol said that government institutions should be mindful of the basic human rights of the patients under monitoring or investigation and those that would be affected by quarantine or possible lockdown as they think of ways to stop the spread of the virus.
“In this time of crisis, we do not need crazy ramblings, crude jokes and fake news. Our people need and demand to be assured that our government is not sleeping or making light of their safety and well-being,” she said.
“Many are already afraid. We can alleviate that fear by showing dignified responses and educated statements devoid of shady machinations to cover up the lack of governance and decisive action from our leaders,” she added. (30)