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Finance Sec. Carlos G. Dominguez III says mass testing is ‘a must’ as COVID-19 cases increase

“We shouldn’t despair but rather build up the capacity to do so.”

On Wednesday, Finance Secretary and President Rodrigo Duterte’s chief economic manager Carlos G. Dominguez III said that mass testing is “a must” to ease the problems brought by COVID-19 to the country.

Dominguez thinks that the country should work on being able to do mass testing if it is still unable to do so.

“We shouldn’t despair but rather build up the capacity to do so.”

Dominguez thinks that a lockdown is “certainly not positive” to the economy, but did not make any comments on the possibility of extending the community quarantine in Luzon.

The people of the country are the number priority at this point.

“But remember that now the goals are to preserve the health of the people, to provide financial support to the people in the informal sector, to support all the front-liners, and to provide liquidity for the economy.”

Internal Revenue Commissioner Caesar R. Dulay, in a text message on the same day, said BIR collections in the first quarter of 2020 were “lower” as the growth in tax take was also “lower,” without citing figures.

The BIR cannot look into unpaid taxes due to the COVID-19, but extended tax payment deadlines, including last year’s income tax returns (ITR) as well as the ongoing amnesty on delinquencies, as a form of relief to taxpayers amid the lockdown.

The Department of Finance (DOF) estimates that the foregone tax revenue this year would reach P286.4 billion if gross domestic product posted zero growth, or a larger P318.9 billion if GDP contracted by 1 percent.

Last Tuesday, Dominguez advised people to pay their taxes if they are able to since the government needs the funds so social protection subsidies and other measures in Republic Act No. 11469, or Bayanihan to Heal as One Act can be implemented.

The government had planned on borrowing more than P101 billion from multilateral lenders to solve COVID-19 problems through domestic borrowings, through T-bills and bonds. but wasn’t very confident as investors wanted high-interest rates.

Also on Tuesday, the World Bank encouraged “high levels of testing, tracking and quarantines” across East Asia and the Pacific region to lessen the economic damage that COVID-19 is doing.

The US has done the most testing so far, as they have the most confirmed cases of COVID-19. The situation in the Philippines isn’t getting any better as the number of cases is still increasing. A lot of people are wondering why the country hasn’t done it yet.

Various celebrities have aired their frustration on social media regarding the matter.

KC Concepcion had the same question.

Agot Isidro, who has been very active in helping the people also wants mass testing to be done.

The DOH (Department of Health) has been called out many times for not acting on this matter.

Health Assistant Secretary Dr. Maria Rosario Vergeire defended the agency saying that it is not the right time yet to do mass testing, but soon it will be done.

“Sa ngayon po, hindi pa naman nakikitang kailangan nating gawin itong mass testing na ito pero nasa taalaan, nasa mapa, nasa radar, na kung sakaling dumating ‘yung panahon, and if we have enough resources and the government can do it, and it is already imperative for the government to do it, gagawin po natin ‘yan kung saka-sakali,”

“Ang mass testing although ginawa sa ibang bansa ay hindi pa nakakapagkita ng proven effectiveness,” she said.

Infectious disease expert and IATF consultant Dr. Edsel Salvana explained that the Philippines just doesn’t have the right resources yet to conduct mass testing.


Written by JO-EST B. TAN

0917 159 6675

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