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Doc Willie pushes for nuke radiation readiness
CABIAO, Nueva Ecija – While Aksyon Demokratiko standard-bearer Isko Moreno Domagoso is not keen on resorting to nuclear power due to safety and environmental risks that put people’s lives in danger, his running mate Dr. Willie Ong took the extra step of urging the government to prepare for radiation emergency amid the increasing conflict between Ukraine and Russia.
“Sina-suggest ko sa ating mahal na presidente, Presidente Duterte, kailangan magtayo tayo ng IATF [Inter-Agency Task Force] hindi sa Covid, pero IATF sa nuclear radiation emergency at vino-volunteer ko na ang sarili ko. Ako na lang ang maghe-head, di ba?,” the 58-year-old cardiologist and internist said Thursday during a town hall meeting here.
Ong, known for his practical medical tips aired thru Facebook (Meta) Live and YouTube, also called on the national government to immediately purchase potassium iodide that can help block radioactive iodine from being absorbed by the thyroid gland in case of a nuclear explosion.
The Aksyon Demokratiko vice presidential bet said the government should have in its supply reserve 130 mg of potassium iodide tablets (for adults) and 65 mg tablets (for children) in case the need arises.
“Kapag may nuclear explosion, kailangan uminom ng potassium iodide ang bata at matanda sa loob ng 4 na oras para ma-protect ang thyroid,” he said.
Hospitals, doctors, nurses, and all medical personnel should also be prepared for a nuclear radiation emergency, Ong pointed out. A nuclear emergency involves the explosion of a nuclear weapon or improvised nuclear device (IND). The explosion produces an intense pulse of heat, light, air pressure, and radiation. Nuclear explosions produce fallout (radioactive materials that can be carried long distances by the wind).
“Kalimutan na natin itong eleksyon, ako na mag-head. Hindi na tayo makahintay ng July eh. Bibilin na natin itong potassium iodide (tablets). Ire-ready na natin ang mga tao, tuturuan na natin kung anong gagawin. Hindi pwedeng ang bagal-bagal natin, malulusutan tayo. Kung ano man ang mangyari, at least mababasa, ire-ready na natin yung mga doctor, yung mga ospital, kukunin na natin yung mga grupo, yun lang po ang magagawa natin kaya tayo tumatakbong vice president,” Ong explained.
“Maraming issues sa bilihin, ang Covid maliit na bagay lang yan kumpara dito. Basahin nyo, ipagdasal natin na hindi matuloy eto, every 3 o’clock magdasal na lang tayo yan lang ang magagawa natin at sana pakinggan ni president yung suggestion ko. Hindi eto politika eh, buhay eto eh,” he said.
Ong said the country should also prepare for nuclear fallout from neighboring countries that have active nuclear power plants after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered that his country’s nuclear arsenal be placed on high alert amid his country’s ongoing conflict with Ukraine.
“Si President Putin ay 70-years-old na at sinabi nya na nung isang linggo na handa siyang gumamit ng nuclear weapon sa Ukraine at iba pang bansa oras hindi sila pagbibigyan kaya yan ang kinakaba natin. Ano ang sagot ng Amerika? Sabi ng Amerika maglalagay sila ng nuclear weapons sa Japan, gantihan ‘di ba? Pero pataas nang pataas ang possibility. Ang Russia na take-over na nila yung Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, delikado yun, malaking aksidente yun, namatay yung mga halaman, yung mga hayop, so parami na nang parami ang issue,” Ong explained.
Ong pointed out that in other countries, “ready na sila sa nuclear threat: meron silang fallout shelter or basement. Tayo, walang preparation sa ganito. Milyong Pilipino ang pwedeng mamatay at magkasakit sa radiation poisoning.”
Given these concerns, Ong said other countries have already distributed radiation emergency kits containing potassium iodide tablets, radiation detectors, wipes, and plastic bags.
Ong said the Philippines is ill-prepared for radiation emergencies, arguing that homes and other facilities should be strengthened or re-engineered in preparation for nuclear threats.
“Ibang-iba ang nuclear emergency preparation sa fire drill. Alam natin yung fire drill, di ba? ‘Pag may sunog, lalabas ka ng bahay. Ito ay baligtad naman. Sa oras na may pumutok diyan, papasok ka sa loob ng bahay,” Ong said.
“Remember 3 things: Get inside. Stay inside. Stay tuned,” he said.
Meanwhile, the doctor-vice presidential aspirant announced the arrival of the anti-Covid drug Bexovid, the first generic version of Pfizer’s Paxlovid. “Dumating na yung Bexovid, generic ng Paxlovid. I think this is the first in the country. ‘Pag ininom to ng pasyenteng nagka-Covid at high-risk, 90% hindi mao-ospital, hindi mamamatay, gagaling agad,” Ong said.
“Ang Covid pabalik-balik. Baka every 6 months babalik. Hindi ko alam kung ano ang mangyayari in the future kaya tumatakbo ako,” he said.
Health is a priority among the 10 pillars of the “Bilis Kilos Economic Agenda” of Team Isko.
To improve the country’s health care system, Moreno said his administration will build more public hospitals and health care centers throughout the country, with a target of providing 107,000 additional hospital beds in his first 1,000 days in office.
The Manila City mayor also plans to achieve a ratio of 1 doctor per 1,000 Filipinos equitably distributed across the country by providing scholarships to 10,000 medical students per year. He also promised to increase the salary of nurses and other healthcare workers.
But foremost will be the rollout of a clear pandemic response roadmap that aims to fully protect all Filipinos against COVID-19 by December 31 of 2022 to open up the economy, and make the country prepared for future pandemics.