Tag: DOH

#PINGterview: Pagbigay ng Ayuda sa COVID19-Affected Areas, Dapat Ibigay Agad at Bantayin!

In an interview on DZBB/GMA News TV, Sen. Lacson stressed at least P200B in assistance to poor families affected by the COVID19-triggered quarantines should be distributed soonest, with scrutiny from the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee.

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On the Critical Need for COVID-19 Mass Testing


When we say mass testing, we do not refer to all the 100-plus million Filipinos. It’s only the most vulnerable: those over 60 years old, which constitutes not even 10 percent of the entire population; those who are exposed; and those with symptoms. The rapid test kits can still be useful according to its specificity.

Thus, DOH Sec. Francisco Duque III may not be very responsive when he says mass testing is not possible because there are not enough testing kits. Besides, I asked doctors who are knowledgeable about antibodies and viruses and all the other technical terms in the medical field. Their opinions mostly differ from those of the Secretary of Health.

Testing of all symptomatics and those who are high-risk is ideal. This is where the rapid test kits come in. The rapid test kit will identify the positives early so that they can be isolated to prevent infection spread.

However, this is not to say rapid test kits as a business deal may be allowed. On the other hand, such kits donated from abroad – and even those purchased by local businessmen who will or have donated the same to local government units to help achieve mass testing – should be given some leeway, as long as authorities properly supervise or at least give enough information about their use and usefulness.

True, the test using the PCR is more accurate and reliable. But how many do we have? How many have the expertise to operate, assuming that we have enough PCR machines?

If the DOH does not change its way of handling the crisis, I hate to say, we may be overrun by COVID19 faster than we can imagine.


How Flexibility and Urgency from the DOH and FDA Can Save More Lives from COVID-19

Image Courtesy: Senate PRIB

Our lockdown is obviously working, no doubt. We can see it ourselves even from the windows of our own houses. But it is not enough by itself to flatten the COVID-19 curve. South Korea has reported to have flattened the curve through mass testing, not lockdown.

What we lack is the ability of the Department of Health to be more flexible. Hundreds of thousands of rapid test kits for donation by some local businessmen and procured from South Korea and China – already in use in those jurisdictions, having been certified by their regulatory agencies – have already arrived at least over a week ago. Yet, a big volume is still being held by Customs. Why?

Meanwhile, the Food and Drug Administration – an agency under the DOH – still refuses to issue even a provisional accreditation, which is needed so those test kits can be distributed for use particularly by those who have symptoms or those who have had direct contact with infected persons, even on a “do-it-yourself” basis, so they can immediately practice self-isolation should they test positive. In turn, this can prevent or at least minimize the spread of the virus.

That, instead of overly restrictive regulations imposed by our DOH, will certainly help obviate a possibly uncontrollable spread of the COVID-19.

As of last Monday, when we were deliberating on the just-signed Bayanihan To Heal As One Act, we tested only 1,500 Filipinos, more or less. With a population of 107 million, the worst is yet to come unless DOH and FDA act with urgency.

That is why I proposed an amendment – which is now Section 4 (j) of RA 11469, the Bayanihan to Heal As One Act. This aims to “ensure that donation, acceptance and distribution of health products intended to address the COVID-19 public health emergency are not unnecessarily delayed and that health products for donation duly certified by the regulatory agency or their accredited third party from countries with established regulation shall automatically be cleared: Provided, this shall not apply to health products which do not require a certification or clearance from (FDA).”


Dealing with COVID-19 as a Nation


The Metro Manila “lockdown,” “community quarantine,” or whatever the authorities may call it, is one decisive action taken by the government that needs the support of our people, no matter the sacrifices or inconvenience it brings.

But then again, government must lose no time in coming up with practical but effective ways of implementing it to serve its real purpose for our country to survive this unprecedented crisis that we are facing.

For its part, the Department of Health’s Inter-Agency Task Force (DOH-IATF) should issue clear, simple and concise guidelines on dealing with COVID-19 to prevent confusion among the public, as so many doctors and medical experts have been expressing different opinions on it, particularly on its transmission.

One example involves former DOH Sec. and now Iloilo Rep. Janette Garin being quoted as saying COVID-19 is infectious only when the patient is symptomatic, and that quarantine should be mandatory only for those who had direct contact with positive patient, on the one hand; and on the other, Chinese researchers reportedly confirmed a case of asymptomatic transmission where a woman from Wuhan passed it to five kin but never got physically sick herself.

Meanwhile, self-quarantine is not for oneself but for the sake of other people. Insisting to work or move around in spite of full knowledge of interaction with a possible COVID-19 carrier is not a laudable act. It is in fact damnable.

Citizens must also do their part by practicing self-discipline and self-control against thoughtless acts such as hoarding and profiteering at the expense of fellow Filipinos.

This is not the time to argue and fight. Instead, we should all unite to get over this plague.


On the DOH’s Procedures in Dealing with the COVID-19 Phenomenon

Do we have enough testers to cover a decent number of our population, especially in the more vulnerable areas of the country? If no, the DOH may be underreporting, albeit unintentionally.

Having said that, we do not see the problem of the virus as it actually exists. This is a top health priority, and government must invest heavily not only on prevention and cure by way of research, but also on containment. We have many homegrown medical experts in and out of government.

This is one phenomenon that should bring us together as a nation.


#PINGterview: On DICT, 2019-nCoV Issues | Feb. 5, 2020

In an interview with Senate media, Senate President Sotto and Sen. Lacson answer questions on:
– Oversight Committee on Confidential/Intel Funds and DICT Row
– Concerns on 2019-nCoV

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‘Unity of Command’: At the Senate Hearing on the 2019-nCoV Situation


At the Senate hearing on the 2019-nCoV situation, Sen. Lacson emphasized the principle of unity of command in addressing the problem, with the Department of Health taking charge because “this is a health issue.”

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In the Spirit of Transparency: Lacson Details Proposed Institutional Amendments in 2020 Budget

Sen. Lacson proposed institutional amendments to the P4.1-trillion national budget for 2020. These include added funding for landmark programs of the administration, such as the PhilSys (National ID) program, the Universal Health Program, and free tuition. He also sought to deduct funding from programs of agencies such as the DPWH and DoTr due to their underutilization of funds, and realign them to more worthwhile projects.

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Related: Lacson Challenges Fellow Solons to Make Public Their Amendments to 2020 Budget
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Pagtaas ng Sahod ng Govt Nurses, Posible Next Year: Interpellation of the DOH’s Budget for 2020

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During his interpellation of the 2020 budget of the Department of Health, Sen. Lacson proposed a solution to address the clamor of government nurses for their salary upgrade.

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‘Hindi Maganda Tingnan’: More Signs of Conflict of Interest, Irregularities at the Senate Hearing on DOH, PhilHealth Row

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[Video Courtesy: Senate PRIB]

At the hearing on irregularities at the DOH and PhilHealth, Sen. Lacson presented contracts entered into by a firm owned by the family of DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III with the NCMH , as well as a contract between PhilHealth’s Region 1 office and another Duque family-owned firm , during the secretary’s incumbency.

Lacson also cited information on other irregularities such as overcharging by PhilHealth, as well as the rediscounting of claims, which is rampant in Eastern Visayas.

Yet, Lacson noted PhilHealth is one of the top GOCCs in terms of subsidies from the government. “Pinakamalaking subsidized ng gobyerno and PhilHealth. And here we are, hearing so many anomalies, monies going to the pockets of a few. Hindi ba nakakagalit yan?

Related: β€˜Namatay Na, Naningil Pa!’ Senate Blue Ribbon Committee Hearing on DOH, PhilHealth Corruption
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