Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson expressed thanks over the weekend to the donors of COVID-19 vaccines that arrived in the Philippines recently, saying these give Filipinos hope of recovering from the economic crisis caused by the pandemic.
Lacson said the vaccines from China-based Sinovac, as well as AstraZeneca vaccines from the COVID-19 Vaccines Advance Market Commitment (COVAX AMC), will help achieve herd immunity that is a key to resuming economic activities.
“Always grateful to China and COVAX AMC for making us see a sliver of hope to achieve herd immunity,” he said on his Twitter account Friday evening, adding the P2.2-billion daily loss in household consumption and the 9.5-percent economic contraction was driving the country a step closer to insanity until the Sinovac and AstraZeneca vaccines arrived.
The Philippine economy is definitely in bad shape, made even worse by the difficult choice between addressing health-related problems and the sinking economy.
A classic example is the NEDA’s recommendation to the President to allow children 10 years old and above to go out of their homes with their parents, as NEDA studies show 50 percent of the economy is driven by family activities outside their homes.
It was a very sound NEDA suggestion that was initially given due course but recalled immediately, instead of first considering a middle ground that would have accomplished both – like closely supervised or monitored family outings.
Policy decisions play a vital role in striking a balance between long-term implications on the economy and the immediate effects on our people’s health concerns. The right decisions will chart our path towards a sustainable “new normal,” pull us out from pits of social and economic distress, and shape a safer and more resilient society.
Lacson, one of the authors and the principal sponsor of the measure in the Senate, said the National ID system will promote financial inclusion and streamline government services – both of which are needed at this time.
“The lack of identification creates formidable barriers for the downtrodden and the poor, and creates even larger barriers between the government and the people. Hence, we should push for the implementation of the National ID if we want to further strengthen our response not only against the pandemic, particularly in the roll-out of the much-awaited vaccines, but in many of our future endeavors,” he said at the third annual economic and political briefing of the Colegio de San Juan de Letran Graduate School.
At the hearing on the proposed 2021 budget, Sen. Lacson stressed the need for greater government support for research and development, especially in the fight against COVID-19. He also raised questions on:
* Information that PhilHealth is not getting full allocations from the sin tax
* Why P30B in COVID-19 response funds remain undisbursed
* NEDA’s ‘Resiliency’ planning
In an interview on PTV-4’s Laging Handa public briefing, Sen. Lacson answered questions on:
* Why the Anti-Terrorism Bill is urgent [21:12]
* DOH leadership woes in dealing with COVID-19 threat [23:15]
* National ID’s value amid pandemic [24:56]
* Implementing the GMRC Law [28:03]
I hope the National Economic and Development Authority can fast-track the implementation of the National ID system, as directed by the President.
NEDA should have ample help from the Philippine Statistics Authority as the frontline agency, and the Department of ICT which plays a major role.
The first question is, is the system ready to accept registrants? If so, they should give priority to the marginalized sector, and those targeted for financial assistance because of the COVID-19 crisis.
We only need to look at how much the most prosperous countries spend on R&D to see why we are among the laggards. Even if we bump up the percentage to 1 or 2 percent of the national budget, it would make a major difference.