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‘Something is very wrong,’ says Sotto as Philippines has fastest rise of COVID-19 cases in region


Lawmakers over the weekend called on the administration to step up its game as the Philippines was identified as the country with the fastest-growing number of new coronavirus cases in the Western Pacific region.

In separate statements released on Sunday, senators responded to data released by the World Health Organization (WHO) that showed the Philippines has the fastest growth in terms of COVID cases in the region.

"IATF must address the health protocols and programs being done by the DOH. Something is very wrong!" Senate President Vicente "Tito" Sotto III said.

"I think it’s the delay in actions and responses. That includes contact tracing and aggressive research on medications," he added.

The Philippines has recorded a total of 34,803 confirmed cases of the coronavirus disease as of Saturday, June 27, 2020. This includes 9,431 recoveries and 1,236 deaths.

In a separate statement, Senator Joel Villanueva said that there was a lack in the guidance of protocols being made to curb the spread of the disease.

"There was no clear guidance on surveillance and epidemiological monitoring. The current statistics are obviously consequences of these actions," he said in a separate statement.

"I really hope that during the past months we have upgraded our healthcare system to properly respond to this pandemic," added Villanueva.

The statement comes three months after Metro Manila and other key high-risk areas were placed under strict quarantine rules, restricting mobility and shutting the economy.

"We continue to encourage the public to stay at home, practice social distancing and only come out of their homes when necessary. We urge the government to put in place a methodologically sound epidemiological surveillance so that we can make informed decisions on our policy approach regarding COVID," said Villanueva.

Senator Panfilo Lacson, meanwhile, said that the Department of Health has been "mishandling" the crisis. 

"That said, in spite of the DOH’s shortcomings, further worsened by the president’s almost blanket trust and confidence in [Health Secretary Francisco] Duque, the latest of which was the ridiculous theory that he is incapable of cheating on government funds since he is too  wealthy to even think of further enriching himself, still, I would like to think that the IATF is performing fairly well," he added.

In a separate statement, Senator Christopher Lawrence "Bong" Go said the public must follow safety protocols to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease.

"Kung susunod po tayo sa mga patakaran at patuloy tayong magtutulungan para maiwasan ang pagkalat ng sakit, kung mas maisasaayos rin ang ating health facilities and capabilities — ito po ang mga tanging makakapagsabi kung kailan natin malalampasan at tuluyang matapos ang krisis na dulot ng COVID-19," he said in a separate statement.

Go, who chairs the Senate Committee on Health, pushed for the Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa Program (BP2) which was signed into law by President Rodrigo Duterte in May.

The program, which has since been suspended, aimed to decongest Metro Manila by encouraging the public to head back to provinces by providing benefits.

Several cases of Balik Probinsya beneficiaries were reported to have spread the coronavirus to areas in provinces such as in Baybay City in Leyte, which reported its first COVID-19 case from a member of the program.

"Habang tumataas ang kaso ng COVID-19, mas tumataas rin dapat ang quarantine, contact tracing, at necessary treatment capabilities natin," said Go.

"Sa anumang mga hakbang na gagawin ng gobyerno at pati ng mga ordinaryong mamamayan, palagi nating unahin ang buhay at kapakanan ng kapwa nating Pilipino," he elaborated. — BM, GMA News

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