Published August 2, 2020, 2:41 PM
Senators on Sunday renewed their call on the Duterte government to exhaust all means in preventing the Philippine health care system from collapsing due to the coronavirus disease or the COVID-19 pandemic.
With doctors, nurses, and all medical frontline workers now calling for a breather, Sen. Richard Gordon, chair and chief executive officer (CEO) of the Philippine Red Cross, said it is imperative that the government takes into consideration the plight of all healthcare workers in deciding whether or not to revert back to enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) especially in Metro Manila.
The country’s healthcare system is close to being overwhelmed and most of the isolation facilities are already full, Gordon said. “It is imperative for the government to rethink is decision in maintaining a general community quarantine status (GCQ), “because all our frontliners are tired and many of them are also getting sick.”
“It should be considered as far as I’m concerned…To me life is more important and it’s going to be difficult of we lose doctors. The government should study this very, very carefully,” Gordon said.
Gordon said he still prefers a selective or localized lockdown especially in Metro Manila to prevent the economy from also collapsing.
“The government projected that we could lose about P392 billion in two weeks. Last time, we lost P1-trillion. Can we afford that? That’s why my position is we should have a selective lockdown,” he explained.
Sen. Christopher “Bong” Go, chairman of the Senate Committee on Health and Demography, assured the medical community that their concerns are heard by the government, and said he is now studying the possibility of providing financial assistance and additional benefits such as life insurance coverage for private sector healthcare workers who are assigned to handle COVID-19 cases.
Go said that while public sector health workers are provided better compensation and benefits by the government, those in the private sector are not accorded the same package.
According to Go, he will ask Duterte, the economic state managers, and other lawmakers if they can include health care workers in the private sector as part of the beneficiaries in the proposed Bayanihan to Recover as One Act or “Bayanihan 2.”
“Frontliners ang inaasahan natin ngayon dahil sila ang mas nakakaalam, kaya suportahan natin sila (We rely on our frontliners because they know best on how to deal with this pandemic, so let us support them),” Go said in a statement.
Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan said he believes the government can agree to a 10-day lockdown as a compromise as it considers the suggestion of the medical sector.
“I think we can compromise for a 10-day period, our healthcare system cannot collapse. We cannot lose our doctors, nurses, and other medical staff. Let’s find a middle ground for this. But we cannot ignore the call of our health workers because they are the ones facing this pandemic,” Pangilinan said.
Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. said that while authorities continue to weigh between re-implementing ECQ and reviving the local economy, the safety of the Filipino people must be an utmost priority.
Revilla said the Department of Health (DoH) and the IATF should distribute free face masks and face shields to mitigate the seemingly rapid spread of the coronavirus.