CALOOCAN CITY, April 9 (PIA) -- On the eve of the Philippines' public observance of the Day of Valor early Thursday, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and members of the Cabinet reported on the gains the government has produced in the country's uphill battle against the COVID-19 pandemic.
During a televised meeting presided by the President and multicast by the Presidential Communications Operations Office and its attached agencies, Duterte allowed each of his officials to report some of the encouraging results produced by government's response and mitigation efforts to the virus.
"Alam na ng Pilipino ano itong COVID at ano yung hakbang ng gobyerno," Duterte said.
"In the meantime, we help each other as one nation," the President added.
On the social amelioration program (SAP) to aid low-income families, Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Rolando Bautista said there may be setbacks encountered earlier with some local government units but they were able to identify the gaps and the shortcomings.
"Hopefully in due time we will be able to distribute the cash amelioration systematically," Bautista said, citing that, "nagkaroon ng problema dahil ang listahan ng mga babayaran ay hindi naging available. Dahil din may mga kakulangan sa mga listahan na yun, dito na po nagkaroon ng problema."
The SAP is a two-month emergency subsidy of up to P8,000 intended for the poorest of the poor affected by the extended enhanced community quarantine. Under the program, head of the families will be given social amelioration card where they will write their profile to help the DSWD validate its list of aid beneficiaries to prevent duplication.
"Ang problema, pag hindi mo na-validate ang isang pamilya, magkakaroon ng duplikasyon," he said, adding that, "yung mga other documentary requirements na kasunduan ng LGU, municipal, city social welfare development office, kailangan po 'yan para sa transparency. May mga pagkakataon na may mawawala, hindi mabibilang ang pera kaya kailangan may taong mananagot."
"We should be a vanguard in the distribution of the social amelioration program. Hindi dapat ito masayang o magamit lang ng mga taong iniisip ang kanilang sariling interes," Bautista further said.
"This is an opportunity for us to show our people that we are worth a public servant and we are looking after the welfare of our brothers and sisters. Ang DSWD po ay gagawin lahat para matulungan ang LGU at mapabilis ang pagbibigay ng ayuda," the DSWD chief added.
On his part, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, the chair of the National Task Force on COVID-19 said they were able to fix some logistical and transportation speedbumps that resulted in meeting the medical and protective requirements of frontliners and health workers.
"Naayos na po natin ang ating mga supplies ngayon, nakahabol na po tayo sa ating PPEs [personal protective equipment]. Halos araw-araw po ang hakot ng ating C-130 [plane] ng mga gamit na 'yan," Lorenzana said, stressing that those on the frontlines can now focus on their job of tracing, isolating and treating victims of the virus.
"Isa pong pinagkakaabalahan namin ngayon ay ang maghanap ng mga lugar na pwede nating gawing isolation wards," he added.
For the chief implementer of the National Action Plan on COVID-19 Secretary Charlie Galvez, the lockdown allowed the country to delay the spread of the contagion for a month.
"Ang ating lockdown, napakaganda po ng ating nagawa dahil na-push ang [COVID-19] curve... It gave us time to improve our medical services," Galvez said.
"Napakaganda ng ating preparasyon kumpara sa ibang bansa. Tayo ang pinakauna na nagkaroon ng tinatawag nating travel ban sa mga bansa na nagkakaroon ng COVID-19 cases. At nakita natin na ang ating hard decisions, 'yung desperate decisions, paved the way for the good results that we are having now," the official added.
While for Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, he said the Philippines' COVID-19 incidence is one of the lowest, relative to limited testing, compared to other countries.
"Isa po tayo sa pinakamababa at kung ihahambing natin ang ibang mayayamang bansa ay 'di hamak na malayo po ang ating ranggo. Isa po tayo sa may mababa na rate of infection...Ito po ay nagsasalamin ng dalawang malakas na desisyon na ginawa ng ating Pangulo. talagang nakatulong po ito sa pagpigil ng pagkalat ng COVID-19 sa Pilipinas," he said, citing both measures such as the absolute travel restriction from China and the enhanced Luzon-wide lockdown decisively ordered by Duterte earlier, helped in keeping the number of infections relatively low .
The health official also took the opportunity and lauded all the healthcare workers for their utmost dedication above and beyond the call of duty.
"Ang health workers ang tagasalba ng ating mga pasyente na tinamaan ng COVID-19 infection kaya saludo po kami sa mga healthcare workers, lalo na po yung mga nagbuwis ng buhay" Duque said.
"Wala hong katumbas ang inyong kabayanihan at ang inyo pong sakripisyo sa pagsalba ng buhay ng mga naapektuhan po ng COVID-19. Maganda po ang halimbawa na pinapakita ninyo at kayo po ang pinanggagalingan ng lakas," he added.
Meanwhile, for Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez, the country may had "bad luck" to have COVID-19, but thanks to Duterte administration's sound "conservative" policies , the economy is "very well-prepared" against the virus.
"Maganda ang position ng economy natin. Even though we had a bad luck to have this COVID-19, we are very well prepared. Ang growth po natin since 2016 ay 6.4 percent... Itong COVID-19 has hit us in a very hard way. Katotohanan lang ang estimate natin ang GDP growth is 0 or -1 percent. Ang unemployment rate natin ay 1.2 million workers," Dominguez said.
"We will be spending more than we will be collecting but we are spending more in order to save the people and make sure they have food on the table during this time... So ang debt to GDP natin ay tataas ng 41 percent, siguro aabot ng 47 percent. But that is still very low compared to our other neighbors," he added.
Dominguez said government is currently working on a Bounce-Back Program once it finalizes conducting economic damage assessment.
He further said the country has enough funds at the moment as government plans to spend up to P600 billion for response amid the serious public health threat, however, the country's economic team will also come up with a borrowing program to support the economy as more than half of the amount will come from new loans.
"We want to assure all our citizens at this point in time, we have the money although we have to realize na hindi naman (that it's not) endless 'yung pera na ito. So we have to spend it correctly, hindi 'yung (not) for wasteful expenditures," Dominguez said. (PIA NCR)