FORMER Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano has called on the national government to start the year by leading proactively against coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
“Kailangan yung mindset natin, leadership. Hindi tayo pwede na habol tayo ng habol dito sa COVID-19,” Cayetano said.
Cayetano urged the national government to a science-based approach to COVID-19 that would help the country “act instead of react.”
He stressed that the fight against COVID-19 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,” Cayetano said.
The former Speaker suggested that aid can be distributed to affected Filipinos even in the absence of a lockdown.
“Kung kailan dadating yung damo, patay na yung kabayo,” Cayetano said.
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, Cayetano said.
“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 said.
Moreover, Cayetano proposed that the functions of the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging and Infectious Diseases (IATF) should 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.
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.