Former Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano on Tuesday called on the national government to ramp up its COVID-19 testing and contact tracing efforts and change its mindset towards the pandemic.
In a media interview on January 11, 2021, Cayetano said the national government needs to revisit its COVID-19 response and act as if the country is confronting an emergency everyday while the pandemic has not yet subsided.
“We have to act, kahit na matagal na, na it’s an emergency. For example, yung testing at contact tracing, alam na nating gumagrabe ang sitwasyon, bakit ‘di natin palawakin ito nang napakabilis?” he said.
“We have to change our mindset, na we’re living with this pandemic. Hindi yung iniisip ng gobyerno parati, kailan ba matatapos ang pandemic?” he added.
(While this has been going on for some time now, we have to act like it’s an emergency. For example, with regards to our testing and contact tracing programs, we know that the situation is already getting worse. Why can’t we expand these programs? We have to change our mindset, we have to accept that we’re living with this pandemic. For its part, the government shouldn’t be stuck with the question of when this pandemic will end.)
Cayetano lamented the situation of the country’s contact tracing program, saying many Filipinos are left to fend for themselves in tracing infections among their families and friends.
“Sa ngayon, kanya-kanya ang contact tracing. ‘Pag nalaman nung isang tao na positive, siya pa ang magtatawag sa mga kaibigan niya. Paano yung iba na hindi nila alam na positive sila? Paano yung iba na hindi nagtetest?” he said.
(Right now, it’s every man for himself when it comes to contact tracing. When people learn that they are positive, they usually place it upon themselves to trace their friends. How about those who are unaware that they are positive for COVID-19? How about those who are not yet tested?)
As of writing, daily COVID-19 cases in the Philippines have skyrocketed to more than 30,000 cases, around 70 percent of which were recorded from the National Capital Region.
The daily positivity rate is now approaching 50 percent, meaning one out of two individuals tested will most likely be positive.
Cayetano said the government and the general public should not be complacent in the middle of the pandemic.
“We have to think na we’re living with it, pero dapat ang kilos natin, kilos emergency. Hindi yung kilos na normal o babagal-bagal,” he said.
(We have to think that we’re living with it. We have to act like it’s an emergency. We can’t act as if everything is going back to normal. We can’t be sluggish about it.)
The former Speaker also urged the Department of Labor Employment (DOLE), Department of Transportation (DOTr), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), and Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to ensure that the public is informed about their social assistance and pandemic response programs.
“May P80 billion tayo sa apat na department na ‘yan para sa mga nawalan ng trabaho (These four departments have P80 billion for those who lost their livelihood),” Cayetano said, adding that the regional directors of these agencies should maximize local media outlets in spreading information about these programs.
“Tulong-tulong tayo (Let’s help each other). Let’s not make each other the issue. Let’s make the issue about how we help each other,” he said.
At the same time, Cayetano asked the public to listen to trusted sources of information on the pandemic to avoid making ill-informed decisions.
“Makinig po tayo sa radyo. Magbasa po tayo ng diyaryo. Manuod tayo ng TV. Kung tama ang impormasyon, tama po ang desisyon natin,” he said.
(Let’s listen to the radio. Let’s read newspapers. Let’s watch the news on television. When we get the correct kind of information, we can make the right decisions.)