Tag: RA 11469

Recommendations on the President’s First Weekly ‘Bayanihan Act’ Report

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[Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson’s comments/recommendations on the Presidentโ€™s first weekly report to Congress as mandated by RA 11469, in his capacity as member of the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee]

1. As suggested by some sectors, there must be a National Strategic Plan from which a National Action Plan, similar to an OPLAN is based.

2. There must be an overall plan by the Executive Department to mitigate the risks and minimizing or stopping the spread of COVID-19, including a detailed presentation of how funds will be disbursed and used by the implementing agencies. The same must be made public for transparency.

3. Correspondingly, in dealing with the threat of COVID-19, our HEALTH WORKERS – many of whom had already died and still more facing the prospect of being overwhelmed by the COVID-19 menace – should instead be made the country’s third and LAST LINE of defense. The FILIPINO PEOPLE themselves should be our FIRST LINE of defense or front-liners; the SECOND LINE are our LAW ENFORCERS, LOCAL GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS AND THE IMPLEMENTING AGENCIES who will implement the action plan.

4. The Executive Department should provide Congress with a clearer picture of the COVID-19 situation and a progress update of implementation such as how many have been tested, number of displaced families and workers per region, and its impact on the countryโ€™s economy, including the steps undertaken to adapt to the developing situation, in its next report.

5. While the President’s initial report lists three priority programs: (1) providing emergency assistance to affected sectors; (2) securing facilities and resources for the health sector; and (3) performing fiscal and monetary actions for the economy – there does not appear to be an action plan for each of them. This must be spelled out in the next report to Congress.

6. Such lack of planning and coordinating threatens to defeat the purpose of the urgency of RA 11469 – that is, to resolve and fight the virus by way of smooth and expeditious implementation.

7. The lack of foresight in this regard is obviously causing the delays as we see it actually happening now. The Executive Department knew beforehand what they wanted to ask from Congress. When we gave it to them in a record time of 18 hours, apparently they were not prepared to execute.

8. Since the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), has finally approved the use of rapid test kits, they should come up with clear guidelines on its use and usefulness, including its strengths and weaknesses in order to maximize a supervised mass testing by the local government units followed by an immediate distribution to LGUs, depending on demand and urgency.

9. The immediate implementation of the Bayanihan Act’s provision on the Special Risk Allowance granted to public health workers, on top of their regular hazard pay, and other benefits to both public and private health workers, especially to benefit those already infected or have died in the line of duty must be prioritized.

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

An Appeal for Public Disclosure: How the Average ‘Juan’ Can Help Flatten the COVID-19 Curve

With Republic Act 11055 or the Philippine Identification System Act still not ready for implementation, it is not easy for the government to trace ordinary citizens who tested positive for COVID-19, as well as those who were directly exposed and symptomatic. Making the job harder is the Data Privacy Act of 2012 (R.A. 10173), which protects the right to privacy and non-disclosure of medical records of patients.

As an admitted oversight of Congress, the recently enacted Bayanihan to Heal As One Act (R.A. 11469) does not authorize the President to direct the disclosure of COVID-19 patients.

But if public figures like Prince Charles, Boris Johnson, Tom Hanks, Christopher de Leon and several of our own legislators had voluntarily and publicly declared they are or were infected, maybe it is time for the “man on the street” – the ordinary Filipinos – to do the same in order to alert those who they had interacted with to take the necessary measures, so that the infection does not spread further.

If their identities are made public voluntarily, even through their barangay bulletins, homeowners’ associations or any social media platforms available, then people who they directly got in contact with can come forward to be tested and treated if needed.

As an elected Senator of the Republic, I appeal to our citizens to practice that selfless act of responsibility to society and do our part in hastening to flatten the curve by thwarting the spread of the virus even in our own little way.

COVID-19 may not be like the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), where there is social stigma attached to the afflicted because it is sexually transmitted in most cases. Nevertheless, it does not diminish the threat that COVID-19 poses not only to those vulnerable but those around them.

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Read: RA 11469, Bayanihan to Heal As One Act (Anti-COVID)

Republic Act 11469 gives the government the needed powers to address the COVID-19 emergency. Section 4 (j) of the law aims to โ€œensure 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 the Food and Drug Administration.โ€

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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).”

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