Former Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano called on the national government to start the year by leading proactively against COVID-19.
“Kailangan yung mindset natin, leadership. Hindi tayo pwede na habol tayo ng habol dito sa COVID-19,” Cayetano said in a media interview.
(Our mindset needs to focus on leadership. We cannot go on merely chasing and reacting to COVID-19.)
Cayetano urged the national government to implement a science-based approach to COVID-19 that would help the country “act instead of react.”
He stressed that the fight against COVID needs to be sustained, even as the country approaches the 2022 general elections.
Cayetano emphasized that the government has all the tools to effectively combat the pandemic.
“The good news is may pera. P5 trillion ang pera. Kung titignan mo yung mga ayuda, kasama na dito yung 4Ps, kasama na dito yung sa PhilHealth. That’s around P500 billion,” he said.
(The good news is that there is money. There is P5 trillion in cash. If we look specifically at allocations for aid, it includes the 4Ps and PhilHealth.)
The former Speaker suggested that aid can be distributed to affected Filipinos even in the absence of a lockdown.
Government funds should be made more accessible to affected Filipinos and distribution mechanisms need to be simplified as many Filipinos are in dire need of assistance, he added.
“Kung mag bahay-bahay tayo ngayon, tapos bibigyan natin sila ng national ID, ng QR code per person, tapos yung QR code at ID na ‘yan, whether virtual or physical, nakakabit sa Paymaya o sa GCash o kung saan man, hindi na tayo magpipila o magbahay-bahay,” Cayetano.
(If we go door-to-door now and give everyone a national ID and an individual QR code, whether virtual or physical, that are linked to Paymaya or GCash or similar electronic wallets, we wouldn’t need to have everyone line up or go house-to-house again.)
Moreover, Cayetano proposed that the functions of the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging and Infectious Diseases (IATF) be decentralized and devolved among different working groups.
“I really recommend that iba yung policy-making group and iba yung i-implement. Ang problema sa IATF, talagang pagod na pagod na. Sila ang nag-i-implement at sila din yung nag-iisip. So, ang problema, hindi napangunahan, hindi nali-lead, kundi react nalang tayo nang react,” Cayetano said.
(I really recommend that the policy-making group should be separate from the implementing group. The problem with the IATF is that they are already exhausted. They are implementing strategies while at the same time, thinking of solutions. So, we have the problem where we are not getting ahead. We don’t lead. Instead, we just keep reacting.)
Cayetano also lamented the failure of the national government to include the hiring of contact tracers in the 2022 national budget because of a prevailing optimism that the pandemic would end this year.
He said that there are “1,001 ways” to solve this challenge. He suggested that the national government and local government units can maximize technology to improve the detection of COVID-19 cases.