Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has slammed the Duterte administration’s lack of program for mass testing to detect COVID-19 infections in the country which she called a “collective torture of the Filipino people.”
De Lima, a known human rights defender and social justice advocate, made the statement after Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque admitted that the government still has no plans to carry out mass testing nationwide supposedly due to its limited resources.
“Matapos ang mahigit dalawang buwang lockdown at sa gitna ng hindi maalis-alis na takot sa virus, pagtitiis sa gutom at pagkawala ng kita ng marami, pagkabigo sa ayuda para sa iba, at pangamba ng lahat sa mga banta ng mismong Pangulo at pag-abuso ng ilang nasa kapulisan at NBI, ito pa ang bubungad na balita sa atin: walang plano para sa mass testing ang gobyerno,” she said in her Dispatch from Crame No. 798.
“Unli ang abilidad ng gobyernong ito na pahirapan tayo. This is nothing more than a collective torture of the Filipino people. Sobra na!” she added.
It can be recalled that Roque recently said that the government instead will rely on the efforts of the private sector to boost the country’s testing capacity, which drew flack online.
De Lima said she believes that passing the burden to private businesses who are already struggling amid the COVID-19 pandemic is unfair as it is unacceptable.
“Lupaypay na nga ang mga negosyante sa kawalang produksyon at pagkalugi habang nasa lockdown, ipinapapasan pa sa kanila ang dagdag-gastos na ito. Ang lupit nyo!” she said.
“Rather than testing our patients, the government is testing our patience. Kung ang responsibilidad mo ay hindi mo magawa at ipinapasa mo sa iba, anong tawag sa ‘yo? Inutil.” she added.
The lady Senator from Bicol further called into serious question the government’s inability to appreciate the importance of mass testing in flattening the curve.
“Gets kaya ng gobyerno na importante talaga ang mass testing? Halos lahat ng pag-aaral sa loob man o labas ng bansa ay nagsasabing kritikal na isagawa ito, kasama ang contact tracing at patuloy na health protocols (gaya ng physical distancing at pagsusuot ng face mask). Kung importante ang isang bagay ay hindi ba dapat pinaglulugaran? Kung mahalaga, hindi ba dapat ay ginagawan ng paraan?” she asked.
“May emergency powers. May P270 bilyong budget. May US$4.75 bilyong utang mula sa World Bank at Asian Development Bank. Pero walang mass testing. Anyare?” she added.
In her dispatch from Crame No. 776 published last April, De Lima underscored the need for an intensified mass testing, saying that “only after mass testing can we really know if we are flattening the curve, and if our healthcare system is over the worst and reached the peak of demand for hospital beds as a result of the pandemic.”
Record shows that there are 12,718 COVID-19 cases nationwide, with 2,729 recoveries and a death toll of 831, as of May 18, 2020. (30)